Christie’s – € 144.090.265 for post-war and contemporary art summer auctions

A highlight of the week was the record achieved for Chris Ofili’s Holy Virgin Mary (1996), one of the defining paintings of the 1990s generation.

Christie’s – € 144.090.265 for post-war and contemporary art summer auctions

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auctions in London resulted in a combined total of €154,090,265. The successes of the Evening and Day Auctions demonstrated an appetite for the highest quality work by the most exciting contemporary artists, alongside the classics of the category, from bidders around the world, and created eight new artist records across the week’s auctions.

Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art in Europe, Middle East, Russia and India, said: “Following the huge successes in New York for Christie’s in May, this year’s June  auction in London marked the culmination of one for the most remarkable seasons in the contemporary art market. The proliferation of events from Venice to Basel means that the competition is higher than ever in the summer, not only between collectors themselves but also for their attention in a busy market. In this environment, the strong performance of Francis Bacon against estimates, at Christie’s, was notable as were the strong sell-through rates and the world record prices for the major post-war British artists, including the very first Turner Prize winner Malcolm Morley, whose record virtually doubled. There was also a huge amount of interest in the diversity of material from Jean Dubuffet to RH Quaytman. I was particularly proud that we were able to steer Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary to her new home.  This work helped to define a key generation of artists in the 1990s and I am glad that the market responded so positively to its presence in 2015.

Chris Ofili artist record

Chris Ofili’s generation-defining work The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), doubled its presale estimate and sold for an artist record of £2,882,500. Leading a selection of works from the Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, the work is the most iconic painting within Ofili’s ground-breakingoeuvre and dates from a seminal moment in his career that saw him rise to international fame amidst a frenzy of media activity and public controversy. The work was first exhibited at the generation-defining exhibition, ‘Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection’, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1997, The Holy Virgin Mary found itself the centre of major public debate when the exhibition travelled to New York two years later. It has become the artist’s most notorious work, included in every significant exhibition of Ofili’s work, including museum shows at Tate Britain, London, 2010, and most recently, the acclaimed retrospective, ‘Chris Ofili: Night and Day’, at the New Museum, New York, 2015.  The collection saw another artist record forJake and Dinos Chapman’s first major sculpture Great Deeds Against the Dead, 1994, which was also part of ‘Sensation’ and sold for £422,500. Bidding was particularly active for the collection overall, achieving a total of £4,630,000.

Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

The Post-War & Contemporary Art evening auction realised a total of £95,646,500 / $150,069,359 / €134,287,686, with sell-through rates of 87% by lot and 88% by value, with bidders from 34 countries across three continents. The highest price achieved on the evening was £12,178,500 forFrancis Bacon’s Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne and George Dyer, 1967. Commemorating two of the artist’s most intimate relationships – his lover Dyer and life-long confidante Rawsthorne – it is rendered with impassioned brushstrokes and gives a glimpse into the tumult of the artist’s inner circle via one of his most powerful means: the 14 x 12 inch portrait.  A further Bacon work,Two Men in a Field, 1971 sold for £10,722,500. Further noteworthy sales included Yves Klein’sPeinture de feu couleur sans titre, (FC 27), 1962 which realised a price of £5,906,500, foregrounding the creative potential of destruction the work is one of the largest of his explosive series of fire paintings that were executed the year of his untimely death, Sigmar Polke’sMondlandschaft mit Schilf (Moonlit landscape with reeds), 1969 selling for £3,890,500, andMalcolm Morley’s SS Amsterdam in Front of Rotterdam, 1966 which made a record price of £1,202,500. The contemporary profile of the sale was also very strong, with records for living artists including: Jeff Elrod (£218,500), Brent Wadden (£122,500) and RH Quaytman(£578,500). 

Jacobs Collection
The Jacobs Collection, which is made up of an impressive selection of works form the collection of Lord Anthony and Lady Evelyn Jacobs that pay particular focus on the shifting relationships between abstraction and Pop Art on both sides of the Atlantic, achieved a total of £6,993,000, with demonstrable enthusiasm for works by Jean Dubuffet, Richard Hamilton, Morris Louis andRobert Rauschenburg all of which made more than double their pre-sale estimates. 

Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction
The Post-War & Contemporary Art day auction realised a total of £14,054,350 / $22,065,329 / €19,802,579, with sell-through rates of 77% by lot and 85% by value, and saw bidders registered from 45 countries across five continents. The highest price achieved on the day was £650,000 forRobert Longo’s photorealist Untitled (Last Tiger), 2013. A marked interest in Chinese material was witnessed in results for Chu Teh-Chun (£290,000) and Zeng Fanzhi (£266,500).  Collections were, once again, centres of attention with both the Peeters and Jacobs collections exceeding their pre-sale estimates.  Other highlights included Sean Scully’s Mariana, 1991, sold for £458,500; Kalla (Arum Lily/Calla), 1969-1970, by Sigmar Polke, £434,500; and Andy Warhol’s Ladies and Gentlemen (Alphanso Panell), 1975, which realised £362,500.  Two further artist records were set in the Day Auction: Stefan Brüggemann, Stuck or Puddle Painting 3(2013), which sold for four times its high estimate at £40,000, and Marcello Lo Giudice, whoseEden Blu sold for £68,500. 

Rosanna Widen and Leonie Grainger, Co-Heads of the Day Auction for Post War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, added: “Led by Robert Longo ‘s majestic Untitled (Last Tiger), which achieved a figure of £650,000, this July auction proved Christie’s ability to offer the highest quality at all levels of the market.  We saw a strong response from Chinese buyers and, in a correlating trend, an outstanding performance for selected works by Chinese artists, with a particular highlight being Chu Teh-Chun’s Composition Untitled which achieved over three times its low estimate.  It was also gratifying to see the strong response to the two renowned private collections offered as part of the Day auction: the Hubert Peeters collection and the Lord and Lady Jacobs collection, which continued its success from the night before, with Dubuffet’s Portrait d’Homme II proving to be a major draw.  The Day Sale has once again affirmed itself as an accessible platform for both experienced collectors and the ever growing new audiences for contemporary art.”

EIGHT POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ARTIST RECORDS:                                          
Jeff Elrod, £218,500 / $342,827/ €306,774                                              $305,000, Nov 2014
Brent Wadden, £122,500 / $192,203 / €171,990                                      £74,500, Oct 2014
Malcolm Morley, £1,202,500 / $1,886,723 / €1,688,310                           £502,100 Feb 2008
Chris Ofili, £2,882,500 / $4,522,643 / €4,047,030                                   £1,889,250 June 2010
Jake and Dinos Chapman, £422,500 / $662,903 / €593,190                     £241,250 June 2010
R.H. Quaytman, £578,500 / $907,667 / €812,214                                    $485,000 May 2014          
Stefan Brüggemann, £40,000 / $62,800 / €56,306                                 $34,375, Nov 201
Marcello Lo Giudice, £68,500 / $107,545 / €96,517                                 £63,700, Feb 2015