December 15, 2019
Arts

Video | Hammer Time: Sotheby’s picks up the pace during a sluggish art week with $270.7m contemporary art sale

The Art Newspaper's editors break down the art market's biggest stories and spectacles, with the help of special guests. In our pilot video series Hammer Time, our deputy art market editor Margaret Carrigan recaps the highlights of New York's billion-dollar auction week, interviews specialists and brings you views from the salesroom.

In what was the most energetic sale of the week, Sothebys contemporary evening sale fetched $270.7m (with fees), squarely within its $213.7m to $300.3m estimate. That is still $75m less than Christies contemporary results the night before, but with a strong 92% sell-through rate and 82% of lots hammering at or above their estimates (versus around 60% to 65% in all other evening sales this week), Sothebys hit a small sprint in an otherwise sluggish sale cycle.

Perhaps bidders were revved up from Phillipss $108m auction earlier in the evening, where 95% of the lots sold. Whatever the reason, paddles were flying high for the first work to hit the block at Sothebys, Charles Whites Ye Shall Inherit the Earth, which hammered at $1.45m ($1.8m with fees) after a four-minute bidding war. The work on paper bested Whites freshly minted world record, set the night before at Christie's—the first ever appearance of the artists work in an evening sale—when the painting Banner for Willie J made $1.2m (with fees).

Another first in an evening sale was Norman Lewiss Ritual, which set the room a-flutter and sold for $2.3m ($2.8m with fees), tripling its low estimate and doubling the artists world record. Additional records were set for Brice Marden, whose Number Two sold for $9.6m ($10.9m with fees), perhaps in part due to a critically acclaimed solo show of his work currently on view at Gagosian in New York. Wayne Thiebauds Encased Cakes sold for a record $7.2m ($8.5m with fees), a sweet treat for the artist on the eve of his 99th birthday—here's hoping he gets a supremely good cake this year.

Though not a record for an artist's price but perhaps for prolonged bidding, Clyfford Stills PH-399 sold for $21.1m ($24.3m with fees) after a 15-minute battle between at least three phones that had the crowd yawning as the evenings auctioneer Oliver Barker inched bids up by $50,000 and $100,000 increments.

The most anticipated lots of the night, however, proved less enticing. Willem De Koonings Read More – Source

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