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Olympic Sized Results for London Contemporary Art Auctions – | Art Market Blog –

Olympic Sized Results for London Contemporary Art Auctions –

olympics warhol basquiat2 300x187 Olympic Sized Results for London Contemporary Art Auctions   artmarketblog.comThe London round of contemporary art sales produced some fantastic results that suggest a strong market. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips de Pury all had great works on offer although most were by the same big names that appear in most major contemporary art sales. Still, the prices achieved were high and the sentiment was overall quite positive.

In a shrewd move by Phillips de Pury, an olympic themed collaborative work by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat titled Olympics was offered for sale during their 28th June Contemporary Art Evening Sale held in London. Originally estimated to fetch £2,000,000-3,000,000, the fantastic painting sold for a stellar £6,761,250. According to the auction catalogue, “Filled with rich iconography and deeply layered in meaning, Olympicsamalgamates some of the most pertinent recurrent themes found in each of Warhol’s and Basquiat’s oeuvres – race, fame, money and politics – all played out in the sporting arena”. The Warhol/Basquiat work helped Phillips de Pury to a sale total of £23,376,400/$36,233,420 and great final figures of 98% by value and 86% by lot.

The highest price of the sale went to Basquiat’s Irony of Negro Policeman – the cover lot of the sale – which sold for £8,161,250/$12,649,938 against an estimate of £6,000,000-8,000,000. The biggest surprise of the sale, apart from the Warhol/Basquiat was the £713,250 achieved for Miquel Barcelo’s De Mars, 2006 against an estimate of £250,000-350,000. A new auction record was also set for a Wade Guyton sculpture when the artist’s U Sculpture (v. 5), 2007 sold for £193,250 against an estimate of £70,000-90,000.

Basquiat triumphed once again during Sotheby’s 26 June London Contemporary Art Evening Auction. The artist’s Warrior, 1982 was fought over by four bidders with the winner taking home the spoils for £5,585,250 / $8,705,729 / €6,984,923 against an estimate of £5-7m / €61-8.6m / $8-11.3m. This price is nearly double the £2.82 million that the painting sold for in 2007.

The biggest surprise of the Sotheby’s sale was the £5,193,250 / $8,094,719 / €6,494,688 achieved for the huge Glenn Brown painting The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali (after John Martin) against an estimate of £2.2-2.8m / €2.7-3.4m / $3.6-4.3m. More than three times the previous auction record for the artist, the painting achieved the second highest price of the auction.

Overall, Sotheby”s managed a total of £69,307,050 / $108,028,899 / €86,675,518, against an estimate of £57-82m / $89-128m / €71-103m and achieved figures of 87.3% by lot and 93.4% by value.

Christie’s produced the highest total of the three big auction houses with their Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction which totalled £132,819,400 ($207,331,083 / €165,891,431) and produced figures of 98% sold by value and 87% by lot.  Christie’s boasted that “this is the highest total for any auction of Post-War & Contemporary Art in Europe.”

The top price of the auction went to the cover lot of the sale, Yves Klein’s Le Rose du bleu (RE 22) (1960), which sold for £23,561,250 / $36,779,111 / €29,428,001, and produced a world record price for a French post-war artist at auction. By far the largest pink sponge relief ever created by the French master, it previously formed part of the renowned Madeleine Everaert and Menil collections and was included in all the artist’s major exhibitions over the past 50 years.

A world auction record was also achieved for Jean-Michel Basquiat with an untitled work by the artist selling for £12,921,250 / $20,170,071 / €16,138,641. Formerly owned by the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Untitled is one of the artist’s earliest masterpieces, combining the gritty urbanism of his street graffiti with his raw and guttural symbolism.

Art dealer Christophe Van de Weghe of Van de Weghe Fine art set the second highest price of the auction when he paid £21,545,250 / $33,632,135 / €26,910,017 for Francis Bacon’sStudy for Self-Portrait, 1964. One of only twelve, floor-length self-portraits ever to be realised by Francis Bacon, the paintings was a smart buy.

Christie’s also achieved high prices for Alexander Calder, Gerhard Richter, Lucien Freud, Roy Lichtenstein and Lucio Fontana.



Olympics,  1984

Estimate £2,000,000-3,000,000 Sold at £6,761,250

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog ( which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others.  Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.

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