Sotheby's $101 Million Contemporary Art Day auction topped by Wayne Thiebaud
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Sotheby's $101 Million Contemporary Art Day auction topped by Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud’s Ripley Street Ridge achieves $3.1 Million. Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Nicole Schloss, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Day Auctions of Contemporary Art in New York, commented: “Continuing the strong results of this week’s sales, we are so pleased to have once again exceeded the $100 million benchmark for the fifth consecutive Day Sale. Impassioned bidding set the tone of the sale from the first lot by Ruth Asawa, which far surpassed its low estimate by more than eight times. That spirit carried over throughout the sale, as a number of significant new artist auction records were also achieved, and we are especially proud that bidders responded enthusiastically to works by female artists with fantastic results for Joan Mitchell, Elizabeth Murray, Elizabeth Peyton, and many more.”

Max Moore, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Day Auctions of Contemporary Art in New York, said: “Today’s results were a major sign that demand from collectors remains strong at every level of the market. And that was perhaps most evident in the phenomenal bidding for Michael Armitage, who made his auction debut today and achieved an unprecedented result that was beyond our expectations. We are also very pleased to have had the privilege to achieve results on behalf of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Andy Warhol Museum for works by Helen Frankenthaler and Daniel Arsham, respectively. The proceeds from the sales will support these wonderful institutions continue their vital missions.”

A number of works achieved prices that were multiples above their high estimates, including Michael Armitage’s The Conservationists from 2015, which sold to a private Asian collector for $1.5 million following a very competitive bidding battle – more than 20x its $70,000 high estimate and setting the world auction record for the artist. The sale marked the auction debut for Kenyan-born Armitage, who also established a new record for any Kenyan artist at auction. Ruth Asawa’s Untitled (S.422, Hanging Single-Lobed, Three Layers of Spheres) also soared beyond expectations, achieving $1.2 million, more than 6x its high estimate, and works by Charles Gaines, Claes Oldenberg, Joan Mitchell, Eddie Martinez and Elizabeth Peyton, among others, all achieved significant prices more than 5x their low estimates.


Wayne Thiebaud
Ripley Street Ridge
Estimate $1.5/2 million
Sold for $3.3 million

Following last night’s record-breaking sale of Wayne Thiebaud’s Encased Cakes in our Contemporary Art Evening Auction, today’s offering was led by the artist’s Ripley Street Ridge, achieving $3.3 million this morning on the artist’s 99th birthday. Recognized as one of America’s most celebrated artists for his paintings of sweets, delicatessen counters and cityscapes, Thiebaud’s Ripley Street Ridge from 1976 was executed four years after the artist’s move to San Francisco. The work captures the post-war landscape of the city, marking a significant shift from the still-life and figurative subjects he primarily painted in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Joan Mitchell
Saint Martin la Garenne No. IX
Estimate $1/1.5 million
Sold for $2.9 million

Named for the picturesque village of Saint Martin la Garenne, just minutes from Joan Mitchell’s Vétheuil home, Saint Martin la Garenne No. IX is a celebration of the rich sensory engagement with nature and memory which forms Mitchell’s highly regarded oeuvre. After leaving Paris to settle in the idyllic French countryside, Mitchell revisited the quaint town of Saint Martin la Garenne as the inspiration for multiple paintings, including the present example. Rather than paint exactly what she saw, Mitchell relied on emotions evoked by her lush gardens, the everchanging beauty of the Seine, the changing seasons, and the unique feel of villages surrounding her home atop the hill.

Ai Weiwei
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads
Estimate $2.5/3.5 million
Sold for $2.8 million

Ai Weiwei’s iconic series of sculptures, the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads recreates the twelve traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures that once adorned the Yuanming Yuan fountain clock, an architectural centerpiece of the imperial gardens outside of Beijing in the 18th and 19th centuries. The original sculptures were looted by French and British soldiers during the Opium Wars. Only seven of the original heads still exist and the whereabouts of five remain unknown. By creating his interpretation of the original imperial zodiac heads with the ‘Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads’ sculptures, Ai Weiwei reunites the twelve animals once again, completing the full set by re-envisioning the five that are still missing.

Works on offer from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation & Family Collections were 100% sold, totaling $593,750. The group was led by Helen Frankenthaler’s Lighthouse Series II from 1999, selling for $187,500 – more than 3x its $60,000 high estimate. Amassed over a period of more than 50 years and spanning time periods and continents, The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections are a testament to Louis-Dreyfus’s aesthetic intuition, curiosity and passion for collecting on a personal level. The Foundation Collection alone contains more than 3,500 works of art and is housed in a museum-quality space in Mount Kisco, New York.

Today’s sale featured a selection of property from the collection of renowned fashion designer Marc Jacobs. Leading the group was the large-scale work Etruscan Paella by Urs Fischer, which achieved $764,000. With a discerning eye and fastidious taste for exceptional quality, Jacobs has spent the past two decades building an extensive collection of contemporary art with a particular focus on figuration. The 20+ works on offer in today’s auction were acquired by Jacobs for his four-story townhouse in Manhattan’s West Village, which he is now selling after purchasing a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Rye, New York.

The sale series continues this December when Jacobs’s collection of important design will be presented in the dedicated auction, Marc Jacobs: A Life of Design on 12 December 2019 in New York. In addition, Sotheby’s will hold a dedicated online-only sale of design works from Jacobs’s Paris apartment, open for bidding on from 4 – 13 December.

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