Art Auction Records Shattered in LondonPosted: February 17, 2015
London, United Kingdom – It took a breathtaking span of 26 hours in London for more records to fall in the thriving global art market.
The highest priced lot took place on Tuesday when Richter’s Abstraktes Bild surprised the packed auction room on Bond Street with aggressive phone bids coming in at 2 million British pound increments ($3.1m).
The final sale price of 30.4 million pounds ($46.8m) established a new auction record by a living European artist.
The anonymous bidder, reported to be an American, was represented by Sotheby’s worldwide co-head of contemporary art, Cheyenne Westphal.
“I think I can genuinely say it went to someone who truly wanted this painting, and he was set on buying it tonight,” Westphal said, noting Richter also happened to be her favourite artist.
A sister painting of the large abstract work was sold by
Eric Clapton in 2012 for a then-record of 21 million pounds ($32m).
The artwork, which measures 3 x 2.5 metres draped with jagged lines of reds and greens, was last sold on auction at Sotheby’s in 1999 for $607,500, generating a return of 32.4 percent annually.
“Richter is not hot all of a sudden, he has always been sought after,” said Arianne Levene Piper, founder of the New Art World consultancy
“There are plenty of ultra-high net worth collectors who are willing to pay for top works.
This explains why a great painting by a great artist will sell for high prices at auction.”
Works by another European artist, Francis Bacon, failed to make headlines this auction season, despite drumming up a buzz prior to the sales.
Both his diptych self-portrait at Sotheby’s and his Study for a Head painting of Pope Pius XII at Christie’s hammered at the low-end of estimates, selling for 14.7 million pounds ($22.4m) and 10 million pounds ($15.3m), respectively.
“They are not the most sought after of his works,” noted Levene Piper. Nevertheless, the late Irish-born painter known for his abstract portraits, still holds the record for the second highest price ever paid at auction; his Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for $142.4m in November 2013 to Las Vegas-based Elaine Wynn.
“Buying a [Francis] Bacon is as good as money in the bank,” said Philip Hoffman, chief executive of The Fine Art Fund. He noted that currency weakness in the British Sterling created an opportunity for overseas buyers – especially those in the United States.
“The Americans will be looking and they are the powerhouses of the art market,” he said, noting most buyers created wealth in the past 20 years and are keen to diversify their assets…(read more)
- Richter Leads Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Sales (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Christie’s Nets $177.9 M. at Contemporary Sale in London, Led by $30 M. Twombly (artnews.com)
- Auctions and Fairs (irishtimes.com)
- Sotheby’s Hammers Rival (wsj.com)
- Daily Art News | February 11th (ultravie.co.uk)
- Record sum for abstract painting (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Going, going, gone: how Sotheby’s and Christie’s still lose out on big sales (theguardian.com)
- The WOW Files: Man Buys $5,300 Painting And Discovers It’s Hiding A $5.2 Million Masterpiece Inside (feelguide.com)