NEW YORK. The 11 November Contemporary Art evening sale brought in $343.6 million, landing solidly within the total pre-sale estimate*, announced sothebys.com. Auctioneer Oliver Barker was lively throughout the night, taking bids in a packed salesroom from collectors from 38 countries, with nearly 40% from outside the United States. A round of applause was heard as Jasper Johns’s Flag (1983) sold for $36 million – an auction record for the artist and one of the top lots of the evening. Records were also set for Glenn Ligon (1960), Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) and Alexander Calder (1898-1976), whose Personnage sold for $1.9 million, the top price for a painting by the artist. And Robert Ryman’s Untitled (1961) brought $15 million – doubling the artist’s previous auction high.
Mark Rothko’s No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange), a pivotal work from 1953 and the centrepiece of the Schlumberger Collection, realized $45 million (estimate upon request). That followed the impressive $30 million-plus prices earned by two Rothkos in the sale of Masterworks from the Property of Mrs. Paul Mellon, held the previous evening at Sotheby’s.
When combined with such masterpieces by Rothko (1903-1970), Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) and Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) from Masterworks from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon, this week’s contemporary art has achieved $460.3 million.
Alexander Rotter, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Global Contemporary Art Department, commented: „It has been a wonderful start to our week of Contemporary Art sales, with the running total now above $460 million, and a very strong day sale yet to come. Having known and admired Jasper Johns’ final encaustic Flag for decades, we were thrilled to see it establish a new record for the artist at auction. Tonight’s sale was anchored by The Schlumberger Collection and the outstanding prices achieved for works that had been tucked away in that legendary collection for a generation, including Mark Rothko’s sublime No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) and Jean Dubuffet’s masterful Cite Fantoche, which also set a new record. Sotheby’s had the unprecedented privilege of offering three major canvases by Rothko from key moments in his career this week and the results were spectacular.”
CONTFMPORARY ART EVENING SALE
85.9% Sold by lot
Artist records: Jasper Johns, Glenn Ligon, Robert Ryman, Jean Dubuffet.
Medium records: Glenn Ligon neon, Alexander Calder painting.
Contemporary Art has achieved $460,268,000 at Sotheby’s so far this week, including works by Rothko, Diebenkorn and Lucio Fontana from The Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon sold last evening for a total of $116.6 million.
This auction saw a sell through rate of 85.9%. Marking the 13th consecutive Evening Sale of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s New York with a sell-through rate of over 80%.
Global participation evident throughout the sale process:
- Works consigned from 12 countries on five continents sought after by participants from 38 countries including nearly 40% from outside the US, and with participation from Latin America and Asia.
The sale was led by Mark Rothko’s No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) from The Schlumberger Collection which was sought by five bidders before selling for $44,965,000 to applause:
- The pivotal canvas from 1951 has been in The Schlumberger Collection – the magnificent compendium of Modern and Contemporary masterworks acquired by distinguished collectors and benefactors Pierre and Sao Schlumberger, for over 40 years and was last seen in public in 1970.
- Other Schlumberger Collection works that performed well included Jean Dubuffet’s Cité Fantoche (1963) which set a record for the artist when it sold for $7,445,000 (est. $4/6 million).
Jasper Johns’ 1983 Flag is among the most recognizable works of American Art and sold for $36,005,000 to set a new record for the artist at auction after an extended contest between six bidders (est. $15/20 million):
- Acquired from the artist in 1983, the year it was made, and has remained in the same private collection since.
Top prices for Andy Warhol portraits included:
- Liz #3 (Early Colored Liz) the portrait of Elizabeth Taylor on a distinctive mint background achieved $31,525,000, Brigitte Bardot from the Gunter Sachs Collection sold for $11,645,000, and Self-Portrait (Fright Wig) fetched $11,365,000.
Strong Prices For Abstraction:
- The 1961 Untitled Robert Ryman (1930) fetched $15,005,000, doubling the previous record for the artist which has stood since 2006 and several times the $500,000 the work brought when it last appeared at auction in 1988.
- Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild from 1991 drew multiple bidders to fetch $21,445,000 (est. $15/20 million).
- Christopher Wool’s Halloween Fell on a Weekend from 2004 sells for $8,005,000, to exceed the high estimate.
- An Untitled Cy Twombly (1928-2011) work on paper is sought by six bidders before exceeding the high estimate to sell for $5,205,000 to a bidder in the room.
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Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s presents auctions in eight different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby’ BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids in real-time from anywhere in the world. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’ Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby’ Contemporary Art department, as well as Sotheby’ Diamonds and Sotheby’s Wine. Sotheby’ has a global network of 90 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID).
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* Estimates do not include buyer’s premium and prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.