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Lucian Freud's "Pregnant Girl" sets record for an early painting by the artist
The sale was led by Lucian Freud’s modern-day Venus, “Pregnant Girl” from 1960-1 that sold for £16.1 million / $23.2 million, setting a new record for an early painting by the artist. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Tonight, Sotheby’s London Evening Auction of Contemporary Art realised £69,461,000 / $100,447,552 / €89,827,274.

The sale was led by Lucian Freud’s modern-day Venus, “Pregnant Girl” from 1960-1 that sold for £16.1 million / $23.2 million, setting a new record for an early painting by the artist.

· The fourth-highest price for the artist at auction (in £)

· More than £9 million above the pre-sale low estimate (£7-10 million).

· Pursued by no fewer than six bidders, the work is one of the artist’s most tender paintings - a portrait of his lover, the 17-year-old Bernadine Coverley, pregnant with their daughter, the internationally-renowned fashion designer Bella Freud.

· Had been in the same collection for 30+ years.

A new record was set for Alberto Burri this evening when “Sacco e Rosso” (c. 1959) sold for £9.1 million / $13.2 million.

· Nearly doubling the previous auction record for the artist (£4.7m set in February 2014). Five years ago, Burri’s record was just £1.9m.

· This work last sold at auction in 2007 for £1.9m / $3.8m.

· A highlight of the 2015 Guggenheim retrospective.

· The result now places the market for Burri alongside other post-war Italian contemporary masters: Piero Manzoni’s (rec. £12.6m) and Lucio Fontana (rec. £19.3m).

· Pre-sale estimate £9-12 million.

A new record was set for Adrian Ghenie when the colossal van-Gogh inspired “Sunflowers in 1937” (2014) soared over estimate to £3.1 million / $4.5 million.

· More than double the previous auction record for the artist (£1.4m set at Sotheby’s, June 2014).

· Sotheby’s now holds the top three prices for the artist at auction.

· Pre-sale estimate £400,000-600,000.

Depth of bidding across broad range of artists and schools:

· Nine bidders (inc. Asian) for Adrain Ghenie’s “Sunflowers in 1937” (see above).

· Six bidders (inc. Asian and Russian) for Lucian Freud’s “Pregnant Girl” (see above).

· Five bidders for Mike Kelley’s self-portrait work on paper, Visceral Egg (1994). Sold for £245,000 / $354,294 (est. £80,000-120,000).

· Five bidders for Günther Förg’s untitled work from 1989. Sold for £389,000 / $562,533 (est. £180,000-220,000). These works have been in exhibitions both at White Cube, London, and Skarstedt Gallery, New York, in 2015.

· Four bidders for Gebirge, the first Gerhard Richter mountain scape to come up at auction since 2008. Sold for £1.5 million / $2.2 million (est. £800,000- £1.2 million).

· Six bidders for Ai Wei Wei’s iconoclastic photograph “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn”. Sold for £755,000 / $1.1 million (est. £150,000-200,000). Another version of the same photograph featured in the Royal Academy show in 2015. The last time a work from the same edition appeared at auction in 2008, it sold for just under £50,000 – a fifteenth of today’s price.

Artists offered for the first time in London tonight:

· Cheyney Thompson: “Chronochrome XIII” from 2009 (the first work by the artist to appear at auction in Europe), sold for an above estimate £197,000 / $284,882 (est. £70,000-90,000) Richard Diebenkorn: an untitled work on paper from 1976 (the first work by the artist to appear at auction in Europe) sold for an above estimate £269,000 / $389,001 (est. £120,000-180,000)

· Chung Sang-Hwa: “Untitled 81-5” from 1981-5 (the artist’s first work offered at auction outside Asia) also sold for an above estimate £269,000 / $389,001 (est. £200,000-300,000)

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February 11, 2016

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