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Trophy Hunting I: Post-War & Contemporary art at Christie’s

April 10, 2012

The Big Get! Record for Rothko at Auction!

Lot 20. Mark Rothko (1903-1970). Orange, Red, Yellow, 1961. 93″x81.25″. Estimate: $35-45 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE OF $77.5 MILLION or $86,882,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

UPDATE – Trophy Hunting became Trophy Buying – Last night’s sale at Christie’s was a $388.5 million record setter, though you wouldn’t have known it during the first ten lots. There were a couple of records tucked in this first ten (Lot 2, Sherrie Levine’s Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp)a bronze urinal estimated at $250,000-350,000 that pulled a hammer price of $800K or $962,500 with buyer’s premium; and Lot 4 Joseph Albers’ Homage to the Square: Distant Alarm estimated at $800K-$1.2 million, that hit a hammer price of $1.7 million or $1,986,500 with buyer’s premium).

But, when Lot 11 came up, Alexander Calder’s Snow Flurry of 1950, the room burst into action.  The large painted mobile, estimated at $3.5-4.5 million, blew through to a hammer price of $9.2 million (or $10,386,500 with buyer’s premium), and the action didn’t stop. The audience was alive.  Lot 14 (below), Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (798-3) was the subject of a protracted battle that advanced at odd increments before the hammer came down at $19.4 million, at which point a competing bidder attempted another bid only to be shut out by auctioneer Christopher Burge who said: “You messed me around long enough.”

All bets were off for the Rothko, Lot 20 (above), estimated at $35-45 million, which sailed into the stratosphere amidst initial frenzied bidding (it was like a trapeze act), before finally making a hammer price of $77.5 million (or $86,882,500 with the buyer’s premium).  The Newman, lot 24 (below) also blew the doors off its estimate of $10-15 million, hitting a hammer price of $20 million (or $22,482,500 with buyer’s premium).

The most hyped, though perhaps not the most anticipated, was the Yves Klein, Lot 34 (below), estimated at $30-40 million, which opened at $24 million before reaching at hammer price of $32.5 million ($36,482,500 with buyer’s premium) — nothing to sneeze at, but I suspect less than hoped for.

All in all, of the 59 lots offered, 56 found buyers and 14 new world record prices were set.

ORIGINAL POST – Money, Moola, Mazuna, Gelt, Scratch … that’s the opening line of Money, Mel Bochner’s entertaining thesaurus painting of 2005, currently on view as part of an exceptional exhibition at the National Gallery of Art through April 29.  It’s also what’s going to be flying around in early May at the evening sales of post-War and contemporary art sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.  And, there are some serious trophies to be bagged.  Here are the top five lots (by estimate) and an additional five lots of interest at the Christie’s evening sale on May 8, 2012.  The entire catalogue is online.

Lot 34. Yves Klein (1928-1962). FC1 (Fire Color 1), 1962. 55.5″x117.75×1″. Estimate: $30-40 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE OF $32.5 MILLION or $36,482,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

Lot 22. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Number 28, 1951. 30.125″x54.125″. Estimate: $20-30 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE OF $20.5 MILLION or $23,042,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

Lot 14. Gerhard Richter (b. 1932). Astratkes Bild (798-3), 1993. 94.5″x94.5″. Estimate $14-18 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE OF $19.4 MILLION, or $21,810,500 WITH THE BUYER’S PREMIUM.

Lot 24. Barnett Newman (1905-1970). Onement V, 1952. 60″x38″. Estimate: $10-15 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE OF $20 MILLION or $22,482,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

lot 36. Gerhard Richter (b.1932). Seestüeck (Leicht bewöelkt), 1969. 78.75″x78.75″. Estimate: $10-15 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE  OF $17.2 MILLION or $19,346,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

Additional Lots of Interest:

Lot 46. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Museum Security )Broadway Meltdown), 1983. 84″x84″. Estimate: $9-12 million. THIS LOT WAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE SALE AND NOT SOLD.

Lot 21.Willem De Kooning (1904-1997). Untitled i, 1980. 80″x70″. Estimate: $8-12 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICES OF $12.5 MILLION or $14,082,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

Lot 43. Brice Marden (b.1938). Attendant 5, 1996-1999. 82″x57″. Estimate: $7-10 million. THIS LOT WAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE SALE AND NOT SOLD.

Lot 35. Jasper Johns (b.1930). Alphabets, 1957. 19.875″x15.875″. Estimate: $5-7 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR A HAMMER PRICE OF $6 MILLIO or $6,802,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

Lot 39. Cy Twombly (1928-2011). Untitled No.3, 2004. 99.25″x72.75″. Estimate: $5-7 million. THIS LOT SOLD FOR $4.4 MILLION or $5,010,500 WITH BUYER’S PREMIUM.

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