Christie’s held its second evening sale dedicated to 21st century art on Tuesday, bringing in a total of $103 million for the 29 lots. This result was just below the high end of lot-adjusted pre-sale estimates of between $76 million and $106 million.
The total pales in comparison to Monday night’s sale of 36 works from the collection of Zurich-based sibling art dealers Thomas and Doris Ammann. Buoyed by a record-breaking Warhol portrait that fetched $195 million, Monday’s sale reached $318 million.
Records were set on Tuesday for works by Eric Fischl and Helmut Newton, with their works selling for $4.1 million and $2.3 million respectively. However, Tuesday’s overall mood was understandably tame, with one New York art adviser describing it as “lackluster”. The result was half of the $210.5 million made in last year’s equivalent sale, generated from a larger group of 37 lots.
Two lots by Jean-Michel Basquiat, including his wooden triptych from 1982 Portrait of the artist as a young wreck which was expected to fetch $30 million, were withdrawn before the sale began. Three of the lots, including works by Jeff Koons and Yoshitomo Nara, were backed by financial guarantees.
Georgina Hilton, head of the Hong Kong-based Asian Classical Art Group at Christie’s, led the two-hour Contemporary sale on Tuesday evening, which started after a 15-minute delay. A roomful of attendees, including art advisers and former Sotheby’s rainmakers Amy Cappellazzo and Yuki Terase, gathered in the audience of the house’s Rockefeller Center saleroom to view the sale.
Among the lots that fetched the highest price of the evening was Gerard Richter’s Red, Green and Yellow Abstraction until 1994. Once owned by Eric Clapton, it was last sold at auction in 2012 for $34.2 million. Resurfacing at Christie’s this year, the canvas hammered in at $33 million, below its expectation of $35 million that had been offered via an on-demand estimate. The final price was $36.5 million with buyer’s fees, meaning the work has made only a minimal return since its last sale a decade ago.
Christopher Wool’s 1988 untitled canvas with the phrase “Trojnors” failed to excite bidders. The work went for $7 million, just under its $8 million estimate, going to a buyer on the phone with Christie’s co-chair of 20th and 21st century art departments, Alex Rotter. Likewise, Banksy Rough diamond (2010), made from a steel truck door and featuring a spray-painted image of a kneeling child holding a diamond, hammered to its low estimate of $3 million. The lot sold for a final price of $3.6 million.
Bidders from Hong Kong and New York compete for 2020 canvas by 27-year-old artist Anna Weyant Summer time, a portrait of a despondent half-naked brunette. The sale of the work, offered as the opening lot, comes just days after Gagosian announced Weyant’s representation, making her the youngest artist to join the mega-dealer’s roster. Weyant’s canvas sold on a $1.2 million bid, for a final price of $1.5 million, to a telephone bidder with Christies Hong Kong specialist Wendy Fang. The result was 7.5 times the low estimate of $200,000.
A work by another Gagosian artist, Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz, known for her slender figures whose faces are often obscured, followed a similar path. His painting 2019 Portrait of a woman (after Louis Léopold Boilly) sold for $1.5 million with buyer’s fees, far exceeding his expectations of $200,000.
Following bidding activity for Neo-Expressionist Francesco Clemente at the Ammann Collection sale the previous night, demand for the 1980s genre came alive in an auction on a painting by Eric Fischl from 1982. The Old Man’s Boat and The Old Man’s Dog, a scene of five nude figures lying on a boat, hammered to a bid of $3.4 million. Selling for a final price of $4.1 million, the result doubled the work’s $2 million estimate and set a new record for the artist.
A new record was also set for Helmut Newton, whose 1980 large-scale black-and-white photograph of a buxom nude woman seemed out of place among paintings by emerging market stars. It sold for the hammer price of $1.9 million to applause, more than double the $800,000 estimate. The final price was $2.3 million.
Elsewhere in the sale, a 2017 canvas by the late Canadian painter Matthew Wong, known for his dreamlike scenes that often harbor literary references, exceeded expectations. green room (2017), an interior scene, sold for $5.3 million buyer’s premium, more than four times the low estimate of $1.5 million. He went to a buyer on the phone with Christie’s Hong Kong specialist Jackie Ho.
A trompe l’oeil painting by 28-year-old painter Issy Wood, whose market has recently increased, has done well. Kinkstarter (2020), which features a two-tone, hammered leather coat for $380,000, more than double the $150,000 estimate. He went for a final price of $480,800, going to a high bidder over the phone with Christie’s Los Angeles director Sonya Roth.