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Record Breaking $142.4 million Bacon Triptych Leads Christie’s $691.5 Million Nov. 2013 Contemporary Art Sale in New York

November 12, 2013
The scene at Christie's.

The scene at Christie’s.

What a wild evening! It virtually rained money. The new record for the most expensive work at auction was established with the sale at Christie’s November 12, 2013 evening sale of Post War and Contemporary art in New York of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which sold for $142,405,000 ($127 million hammer price plus the buyer’s premium).  The triptych got a late, third party guarantee, so it was certain to sell, but at what price? Bidding opened at $80 million and quickly shot past the $100 million mark in $5 million increments. When the hammer finally came down after six minutes of bidding by seven bidders, and a bit of teasing by the auctioneer, the winning phone bid was taken by Lock Kresler at Christie’s London on behalf of New York’s Acquavella Galleries resulting in much applause, even from the auctioneer.  (Christie’s press release arrived at 7:59PM). [ The sale brought in a huge $691,583,000 – here are the complete results]. Adding in the results of the Nov. 13 morning and afternoon sales, and the total for the fall Post War & Contemporary sales at Christie’s exceed $750 million.

Lot 32. Francis Bacon (1909-1992)  Three Studies of Lucian Freud  titled and dated '3 studies for portrait Lucian Freud 1969' (on the reverse of the center panel) oil on canvas, in 3 parts  each: 78 x 58 in. (198 x 147.5 cm.)  Painted in 1969.  Estimate: In the region of $86 million.

Lot 32. Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Three Studies of Lucian Freud
titled and dated ‘3 studies for portrait Lucian Freud 1969’ (on the reverse of the center panel)
oil on canvas, in 3 parts
each: 78 x 58 in. (198 x 147.5 cm.)
Painted in 1969.
Estimate: In the region of $86 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $127 million ($142,405,000 with the buyer’s premium). click on image to enlarge

As Artinfo’s Judd Tully summed it up: “Sixteen lots sold for more than $10 million, and of those, eleven made over $20 million, while three exceeded $50 million. Additionally, ten artist records were set. The results smashed last November’s $412.2 million result for 67 lots sold; and when you include the hefty buyer’s premium to each of the 63 lots that sold, the average lot price comes out to $10,977,508.”

The highly anticipated  sale gained an additional boost from a front page New York Times story about hard sell the auction houses employ to move multi-million dollar pieces of art.  Then word started flying around on twitter that Christie’s had moved the signature lot of their sale, the Francis Bacon triptych, up into an earlier spot, from lot 32 to lot 8a, right after the Christopher Wool  APOCALYPSE NOW. Brisk bidding opened the first seven lots leading into lot 8, the Wool, which easily blew through it’s $20 million high estimate to selling to New York dealer Christophe van de Weghe for a hammer price of $23.5 million ($26,485,000).

The Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Orange), estimated at $35 – 55 million, opened at $35 million and for a moment appeared about to sell at the low estimate.  Bidding picked up and it appeared dealer New York dealer dealer David Zwirner would get the work for $51 million, but another bidder swooped in to get it for a hammer price of $52 million ($58,405,000 with the buyer’s premium), the most expensive work at auction by a living artist. (Christie’s press release about this lot arrived at 8:08PM). The evening’s first couple of buy-ins ensued, with works by Luc Tuymans and Mauricio Cattelan falling flat.  The large orange Rothko (below) enlivened the audience drawing at winning hammer price of $41 million ($46,085,000 with the buyer’s premium) and, somewhat remarkably, tepid applause.  Hard group to please.

The Warhol Coca-Cola (3) chugged along from $32 to $50 million and seemed ready to sell at that number, then Amy Cappallazzo of Christie’s taking a phone bid grabbed it for $51 million ($57,285,000 with the buyer’s premium). Lot 35, the Richter  Abstraktes Bild (809-1), being sold by Eric Clapton, almost got bought in at $18 million (against an estimate of approximately $25 million), but managed to get one real bid and sell for a hammer price of $18.5 million ($20,885,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 27. Andy Warhol (1928-1987)  Coca-Cola [3]  signed 'Andy Warhol' (on the turning edge)  casein on cotton  69 3/8 x 54 in. (176.2 x 137.2 cm.)  Painted in 1962.  Estimate: $40-60 million.

Lot 27. Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Coca-Cola [3]
signed ‘Andy Warhol’ (on the turning edge)
casein on cotton
69 3/8 x 54 in. (176.2 x 137.2 cm.)
Painted in 1962.
Estimate: $40-60 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $51 million ($57,285,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 12. Jeff Koons (B. 1955)  Balloon Dog (Orange)  signed and dated 'Jeff Koons 1994-2000' (on the underside)  mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating  121 x 143 x 45 in. (307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3 cm)  Executed in 1994-2000. This work is one of five unique versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow).  Estimate: $35-55 million.

Lot 12. Jeff Koons (B. 1955)
Balloon Dog (Orange)
signed and dated ‘Jeff Koons 1994-2000’ (on the underside)
mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating
121 x 143 x 45 in. (307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3 cm)
Executed in 1994-2000. This work is one of five unique versions (Blue, Magenta, Orange, Red, Yellow).
Estimate: $35-55 million. (click on image to enlarge) This lot sold for a hammer price of $52 million ($58,405,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 15. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)  Untitled  acrylic and oilstick on wood panel  72 x 48 in. (182.8 x 121.9 cm.)  Painted in 1982.  Estimate: $25-35 million.

Lot 15. Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)
Untitled
acrylic and oilstick on wood panel
72 x 48 in. (182.8 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 1982.
Estimate: $25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $26 million ($29,285,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 21. Mark Rothko (1903-1970)  No. 11 (Untitled)  signed and dated 'MARK ROTHKO 1957' (on the reverse)  oil on canvas  79½ x 69¾ in. (201.9 x 177.2 cm.)  Painted in 1957.  Estimate: $25-35 million.

Lot 21. Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
No. 11 (Untitled)
signed and dated ‘MARK ROTHKO 1957’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
79½ x 69¾ in. (201.9 x 177.2 cm.)
Painted in 1957.
Estimate: $25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $41 million ($46,085, 000 with the buyer’s premium)

Lot 39. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)  Number 16, 1949  signed and dated 'Jackson Pollock 49' (lower edge)  oil and enamel on paper mounted on masonite  30¾ x 22¼ in. (78.1 x 56.5 cm.)  Painted in 1949.  Estimate: $25-35 million.

Lot 39. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Number 16, 1949
signed and dated ‘Jackson Pollock 49’ (lower edge)
oil and enamel on paper mounted on masonite
30¾ x 22¼ in. (78.1 x 56.5 cm.)
Painted in 1949.
Estimate: $25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $29 million ($32,645,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 35. Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)  Abstraktes Bild (809-1)  signed, numbered and dated '809-1 Richter 1994' (on the reverse); numbered again '809-1' (on the turning edge) oil on canvas  88¾ x 78 7/8 in. (225 x 200 cm.)  Painted in 1994.  Estimate: In the region of $25 million.

Lot 35. Gerhard Richter (b. 1932)
Abstraktes Bild (809-1)
signed, numbered and dated ‘809-1 Richter 1994’ (on the reverse); numbered again ‘809-1’ (on the turning edge)
oil on canvas
88¾ x 78 7/8 in. (225 x 200 cm.)
Painted in 1994.
Estimate: In the region of $25 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $18.5 million ($20,885,000 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 34. Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)  Seductive Girl  signed and dated 'rf Lichtenstein '96' (on the reverse)  oil and Magna on canvas : 50 x 72 in. (127 x 182.8 cm.)  Painted in 1996. Estimate: $22 - 28 million.

Lot 34. Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Seductive Girl
signed and dated ‘rf Lichtenstein ’96’ (on the reverse)
oil and Magna on canvas : 50 x 72 in. (127 x 182.8 cm.)
Painted in 1996.
Estimate: $22 – 28 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $28 million ($31,525,000 with the buyer’s Premium).

Lot 8. Christopher Wool (B. 1955)  Apocalypse Now  signed, titled, numbered and dated 'APOCALYPSE NOW (P.50) WOOL 1988' (on the reverse) alkyd and flashe on aluminum and steel  84 x 72 in. (213.4 x 182.9 cm.)  Painted in 1988.  Estimate: $15-20 million.

Lot 8. Christopher Wool (B. 1955)
Apocalypse Now
signed, titled, numbered and dated ‘APOCALYPSE NOW (P.50) WOOL 1988’ (on the reverse)
alkyd and flashe on aluminum and steel
84 x 72 in. (213.4 x 182.9 cm.)
Painted in 1988.
Estimate: $15-20 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of $23.5 million ($26,485,000 with the buyer’s premium). 

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