Results: Christie's London Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale

On Tuesday evening Christie's London held its evening Post War and Contemporary art sale. The art trade seems very pleased with the results of the sale, and the sector continues to show signs of strength after the sales in New York and the contemporary art fair, Art Basel.

The Christie's evening sale totaled $125.8 million (including buyers premiums) against a pre sale estimate of $88.9 million and $123.3 million. Very nicely at the top end of the pre sale estimate range, although buyers premiums are included. 65 lots were offered in the sale with 53 selling for a very respectable sell through rate of 82%, and a 94% sales to value ratio.

The top selling lot was by Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait, selling for $28.67 million (see image). An Andy Warhol Mao was the second highest selling lot of the sale at $11.15 million. Warhol placed three pieces in the top ten. Interesting again to see that of the top ten lots, 7 where purchased by private European collectors, one by an American private collector, one by the European trade, and one sale was listed as anonymous. We continue to see many private collectors purchasing at auction, with less and less dealer activity, although dealers may be participating in an advisory role.

Christie's reported on the sale

19 lots sold for over £1 million (25 over $1 million). Buyers came from 16 different countries and the breakdown (by lot / by origin) was 59% Europe including UK, 26% Americas and 15% Asia. 5 artist records were set; for Juan Muñoz, Ron Mueck, Paula Rego, Domenico Gnoli and Miquel Barceló, who set a record for any living Spanish artist.

Francis Outred, Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: “We saw global competition for works of great quality with a particular appetite for those sourced from private collections. We offered works representing 14 nationalities and attracted buyers from 16 countries; this diversity is breaking down boundaries and creating a competitive arena where collectors are being introduced to and bidding for works independent of their origin. We are extremely pleased to have established a world record price for a work of art by a living Spanish artist with Barceló’s sublime bullfight painting, particularly as this follows the success of the auction here in February when we established a world record price for a living French artist with Martial Raysse. British art was at the core of the auction – the Kay Saatchi collection kicked off the evening, far exceeding expectations and setting record prices for Ron Mueck and Paula Rego. This was followed by strong prices for Freud, Doig and of course Francis Bacon whose ‘Study for a Portrait’ attracted determined bidding and sold for £18 million, becoming the 2nd most valuable work to be sold at an auction of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in London.”

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