New York Nine carefully composed evening auctions ranging from impressionists to digital art brought in superlative results for the three largest auctioneers in two weeks. Significant origins and trends were presented. 298 lots sold raised a staggering $ 2.3 billion. The equally successful daily auctions with affordable goods added another 240 million dollars. Dozens of records fell.
According to Sotheby’s the field of participants in the contemporary art auctions on November 18th was more diverse than ever. It covered 48 countries on six continents. Bidders from Asia were very active again, contributing around 20 percent of the bids. They were able to win a number of top hits, including works by Yoshitomo Nara, Ellsworth Kelly and Alexander Calder.
He really sees a very dynamic market, was pleased Phillips‘New CEO Stephen Brooks. The house had raised $ 139.1 million on November 17th with “20th Century & Contemporary Art,” the best result ever.
Blue chip art is still in demand, but the interests of collectors are now very diverse. “The art-historical canon is currently being reconsidered,” mused Phillips, “Robert Manley, Deputy Chairman, after the auction. Artists of all ages are seen in a new light and set strong prices.
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For example, Joan Mitchell’s unusually brilliant, gestural late work (1992) with an attractive estimate of at least 4 million dollars at Phillips was followed by around eight bidders and only awarded with a premium of 11.9 million dollars. Georgia O’Keeffe’s early picture of scarlet lobster claws (heliconia), which was commissioned by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1939, raised international interest to $ 7.4 million.
Phillips’ strength to place young market stars and undiscovered artists in evening auctions activated speculators and young collectors again. Only a few weeks ago they set off a surprising fireworks display in London on October 15th.
Now an online bidder in New York New has improved the record set there for Shara Hughes to 1.5 million. For Amy Sherald’s picture “Welfare Queen” from 2012, the second highest price was achieved at 3.9 million dollars gross according to the Artnet database .
“With the redistribution of wealth, a lot of younger people now have a lot of money. And they are interested in the art of their time, ”says Jean-Paul Engelen, Phillips’ Deputy Chairman.
Sotheby’s for the first time pushed its way into the lucrative territory of art that was no more than twenty years old with the evening auction “The Now” on November 18. For 23 lots sold, $ 72 million was hammered in and nine records were set. Those who could not get access to the artists they were looking for on the primary market could get here at a surcharge.
One of the six debutants at an evening auction was the South African Lisa Brice, who opened the evening with the large format “No Bare Back, after Embah” (2017). Instead of the expected maximum of $ 300,000, the sometimes noisy competition ended at $ 3.2 million with a premium, a multiple of the record last set in Johannesburg.
The beautiful self-portrait “Through Line” (2017) by the Nigerian Toyin Ojih Odutola, who lives in New York and whose solo exhibition in London is currently at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, has also been contested. The large format only went to a telephone bidder, New York investor Glenn Fuhrmann, at $ 2.2 million.
The competition for the highlight of the auction, “Nice to See You Again” (1996) by the Japanese Yoshitomo Nara, was made up of eight Asian bidders. It was only assigned at double the lower estimate, at $ 15.4 million. The consignor bought the picture in New York in May 2005 for almost $ 330,000.
Things were more moderate in the final “Contemporary” auction, which had just 34 lots and a total of 32 sales raised 119.2 million dollars. The focus was on eleven lots from the large estate of the well-known television producer Douglas S. Cramer, who died in June.
Douglas was a big fan of Ellsworth Kelly and also Cecily Brown’s abstractions, which came into play here with just three works. The New York consulting firm Ruth / Catone raised their 1999 work “Spree”, acquired from Gagosian in the same year, at $ 6.35 million, comfortably above the estimate. Four applicants, including Patti Wong, Chairman Asia, heaved Roy Liechtenstein’s “Two Paintings: Craig …” (1983), a gift from the artist, to the top price of $ 20.4 million.
A piece of paper also plays a decisive role in the brilliant weekly result. Although it is not a work of art, it is the rare first edition of the “Official Edition” of the US Constitution of 1787. Sotheby’s boldly packed the historical documents into the auction of contemporary art on November 18. It worked out. When a Tyrannosaurus Rex or three Alfa Romeos are auctioned off in the prestigious New York auctions, they are sure to attract the attention of the world’s billionaires.
Kenneth Griffin, founder and CEO of the Chicago hedge fund Citadel and major art collector, was enthusiastic about the six-page document, which begins with the famous words “We, the people”. In doing so, he granted the highest auction price for a historical document for one of the last copies in private hands.
This constitution had last changed hands at Sotheby’s in 1988 for $ 165,000, now at least ten million dollars were expected. “The US Constitution is a sacred document that protects the rights of every American and all those who strive to become one,” Griffin said in a statement afterwards.
Loser was the only other interested party, the crypto group Constitution DOA (“decentralized autonomous organization”), which wanted to make the document available to the public at $ 40 million. In just three days, she was able to mobilize over 17,000 participants worldwide and collected Ethereum worth over 40 million dollars through crowdfunding.
Griffin announced that he was ans of his new acquisition Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the museum of Walmart heiress Alice Walton.
More: Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips: New York evening auctions turn over billions