NEW YORK Christies notched its largest-ever Postwar/Contemporary evening sale on Wednesday, delivering a stunning $412,253,100 tally
NEW YORK — Christie’s notched its largest-ever Postwar/Contemporary evening sale on Wednesday, delivering a stunning $412,253,100 tally. It beat Sotheby’s astonishing $375.2-million contemporary art evening on Tuesday and along the way, set seven artist records and sold all but six of the 73 lots offered for a miniscule buy-in rate of eight percent by lot and seven percent by value. Equally impressive, it beat pre-sale expectations of $289,350,000-$411,800,000.
Six works sold for over $20 million and 55 of the 67 lots that sold hurdled the million-dollar mark. The enormous and almost incomprehensible result ranks second in Christie’s history for any category, trailing only the $491.5-million Impressionist and Modern evening sale in November 2006. Tonight’s result crushed the $247.5-million tally made last November.
By that time, of course, Christie’s had rung up gonzo results, ranging from the top lot, Andy Warhol’s experimental 3-D “Statue of Liberty” (picutred below), executed in silkscreen inks, spray enamel, and graphite from 1962, which sold to a telephone bidder for $43,762,500 (est. on request in the region of $30-40 million). It now ranks as the second most expensive Warhol ever sold at auction, trailing only “Green Car Crash (Green Burniing Car I)” (1963), which sold at the same house in May 2007 for a record $71,720,000.
Not far behind was a true masterwork, Franz Kline’s powerful and boldly executed black and white Abstract Expressionist painting, “Untitled” (1957), which sold to a telephone bidder for a record $40,402,500 (est. $20-30 million). New York dealer Robert Mnuchin was one of the underbidders, as well as a onetime owner of the great painting. Christie’s guaranteed the painting. Its sale obliterated the previous mark set just recently by “Shenandoah” (1956), which sold at Sotheby’s Tuesday evening for $9,322,500.
Another AbEx work from 1957, Mark Rothko’s punchy “Black stripe (orange, Gold and Black)” sold to the telephone for $21,362,500 (est. $15-20 million). Jose Mugrabi was one of the underbidders. It last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York in May 1993 for $882,500.
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