online sale of Contemporary Art in Milan realised 10.415.375 / $11,684,801, soaring above its pre-sale estimate of 6.625.000-9,167,000. This is the second highest total ever achieved for an online sale staged by Sothebys globally, and the highest-achieving online sale mounted in Europe. 89% of the lots offered were sold, with 70% of those exceeding their high estimates. The auction also saw activity from 20% more bidders than in Milans last live Contemporary Art sale in November 2019, with participants hailing from 23 countries almost double the number of regions than in the previous live auction. Attracting an average of 8.6 bids per lot, the auction saw competitive bidding through to the final day and in the final seconds.
Contemporary Art | Milan is one of numerous sales at Sothebys that had originally been scheduled as live auctions, but in light of current global circumstances have been converted into an online sale. This is the now the 90th online auction staged at Sothebys since the 20th March, which together have realised a total of $146.5 million over twelve times the total raised over the same period in 2019 ($12.3 million).
Marta Giani, Head of Sale: We are proud to have proven our belief in the Italian market and to have executed an exceptional sale, with results beyond our wildest expectations, even in these unusual times. This occasion has hugely boosted the positivity and confidence of both Italian and international collectors. The market is clearly alive and ready to adapt to the online culture.
Top Lot: The sale was led by Giorgio Morandis tranquil painting, Natura Morta, from 1951, which soared above its high estimate to 1.452.500 / $1,629,531 the third highest price ever achieved for an artwork in an online sale at Sothebys (lot 19, est. 750.000-1.000.000). Quick fire bids also pushed the final totals for two further works of the same title by Morandi beyond their high-estimates: the first an oil on canvas to 1.068.500 / $1,198,729 (lot 28, est. 650.000-850.000) and a pencil drawing to 75.000 / $84,141 (lot 9, est. 30.000-40.000).
Further highlights: Created exclusively for the cover of Vanity Fair Italia, Francesco Vezzolis L'Italia siamo noi - Omaggio a Lucio Fontana quadrupled its low estimate to realise 87.500 / $98,164 (lot 34, est. 20.000-80.000). Acquired by an American collector closely linked to Italy, proceeds from the sale will be donated to the research project of the Policlinico di Milano on Covid-19. Paying tribute to Italy in light of coronavirus, and reminiscent of Lucio Fontana, a slash in the canvas represents the wound and the gap left by the current pandemic.
An Celotex work executed in 1954 by Alberto Burri also exceeded its high estimate to achieve 552.500 / $619,839 (lot 21, est. 240.000-340.000). In his first appearance at auction in Italy, Liu Yes stylised painting, The Last Tempter, sold for 275.000 / $308,517 (lot 17, est. 180.000-250.000). The sale coincides with the artists solo exhibition at Fondazione Prada, Milan. A further piece by Liu Ye, Leave Me in the Dark, will headline Sothebys most ambitious Contemporary Art spring sales in Asia with an estimate of HK$25-35 million / $3.2-4.5 in July 2020.
Lucio Fontanas blue Concetto Spaziale, Attesa led six further works by the Italian master after it raising 552.500 / $619,839 (lot 18, est. 300.000-400.000). 46 bids from across the globe were placed across all the works by Fontana, and over halve of those offered exceeded their pre-sale high estimates, together totalling 1.794.000 / $2,012,653 (lot 4, 12, 24, 25, 29 and 38).
The sale saw competitive bidding and exceptional prices for works by Piero Manzoni, whose Merda dartista doubled its pre-sale estimate, selling for 250.000 / $280,470 (lot 11, est. 120.000-180.000). Elsewhere, a new world record was set for Gino de Dominicis when 26 bids pushed the final price for his sculpture, Senza Titolo, to 492.500 / $552,526 (lot 50, est. 80.000-120.000). Alighero Boettis Segno e disegno also fetched a record for a work in this series, achieving 200.000 / $224,376 (lot 1 est. 80.000-120.000), and finally a dynamic sculpture by Fausto Melotti (Lot 53, est. 60.000-80.000), tripled its high estimate to reach 250.000 / $280,470.