Christie’s 21st Century sale hits $103 million

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Christie’s Tuesday night sale of 21st century works made a total of $103 million in an auction that set 10 records and was dominated by active bidding for works by young artists, diverse and feminine.

Records started with Anna Weyant’s
Summer time2021, an oil on canvas that sold for $1.5 million, including fees, after nearly eight minutes of bidding to a buyer on the phone with a specialist in Hong Kong.

Works by Weyant, 27, ranked first in three evening sales this week and then in New York. Tuesday’s result follows the sale of Weyant’s Josephine sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in early spring for HK$4 million ($513,637) above a low estimate of HK$250,000.

Just before the start of the auction, a constructed painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat titled Portrait of an artist as a young wreck,1982 – with a pre-sale estimate of around US$30 million – was driven with a sculpture by Basquiat, See Plate 3, 1982 which belonged to Keith Haring. No explanation was given for their withdrawals. Neither work was to be sold with a warranty, and the sender – who owned both works – was not disclosed by Christie’s.

The loss of the two works affected the auction total, which had a pre-sale estimate range of between $110 million and $162 million. The remaining 31 lots, however, were all sold, with an average of 5.9 bidders per lot, according to Anna Maria Celis, who led the evening auction for Christie’s. “It shows the strength of this market,” Celis said at a press conference after the sale.

7 feet tall by Gerhard Richter Summary Picture, 1994, fetched the highest price of the night at US$36.6 million, in line with an estimate of around US$35 million, achieving the second-highest auction price for a work by Richter . It was one of three Richter abstracts that musician Eric Clapton bought in 2001 for a total of $3.4 million at Sotheby’s. Clapton had sold the work in 2012 for $34 million at Christie’s in London, at the time the highest price achieved by a living artist.

Much of the excitement at Tuesday’s sale, however, was for works by several up-and-coming artists who have garnered attention over recent auction seasons, including Weyant, Shara Hughes, Matthew Wong and Ewa Juszkiewicz, and for established artists such as Reggie Burrows Hodges and Eric Fischl, who Celis says have benefited from the exposure of the 21st century sales format.

green room, 2017, by the late Canadian artist Wong, set a record US$5.34 million, with fees for the artist exceeding a high pre-sale estimate of US$2 million. Hughes’ Tours of Switzerland2017, made $2.94 million, with fees, also a record for the artist, and more than three times a high pre-sale estimate of $700,000.

Juszkiewicz’s spectacular height of 6.6 feet Portrait of a woman (after Louis Léopold Boilly), 2019, sold four times its high estimate at $1.56 million including fees. The proceeds of this sale are donated to the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Other records were set for Hodges Intersection of color experience, 2019, which sold for US$705,600, Tom Sachs’ Tiffany Value Meals1998, which sold for US$302,400, Fischl’s The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man…1982, sold for $4.14 million, Joel Mesler’s
Live, 2020, which sold for US$907,200, and Ouattara Watts’ AfroBeat, 2011, which made $781,200. Helmut Newton
“Big Nude III” (variant), Parisphotographed in 1980 and printed in the 1990s, sold for $2.34 million.

Good results were also observed for Salman Toor
Girl and boy with driver2013, which reached $882,000, more than four times its high estimate, and for Amoako Boafo’s yellow dress, 2018, which sold for US$819,000, above a high estimate of US$350,000. All prices include fees.

A non-fungible token, or NFT, from digital artist Refik Anadol titled Living Architecture: Casa Batlló in the Metaverse made $1.38 million.

Works by many of the same artists will appear next week at Phillips Contemporary Evening Sale on Wednesday May 18 and Sotheby’s ‘The Now’ Evening Sale of Ultra-Contemporary Works on Thursday May 19.

Christie’s 21st Century auction was the second major event of the spring auction season after Monday’s auction of the Thomas and Doris Ammann Collection, which included Andy Warhol’s $195 million sale.
Blow Sage Blue Marilyn to Larry Gagosian, whose gallery facilitated the sale of the painting to Thomas Ammann of SI Newhouse in 1986.

The entire Ammann auction reached US$318 million and resulted in new auction records for six artists in addition to Warhol, including Francesco Clemente, Mike Bidlo and Ann Craven.

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