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May 16, 2013

GalleristNY: Christie’s makes $495m in Contemporary sale, highest total ever at auction

By Spear's

The auction saw seven lots over $20 million with buyer’s premium, among them those that led to new auction records for Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Philip Guston

Christie’s broke auction records this evening with a contemporary art sale that brought in $495 million for the house across 70 lots, the highest total ever earned in a single auction.

The auction saw seven lots over $20 million with buyer’s premium, among them those that led to new auction records for Jackson Pollock (Number 19 pictured left; it went for $58.3 million), Roy Lichtenstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Philip Guston, a list that reads “like an art history book,” said specialist Koji Inoue at the press conference after the auction. The sale set a total of 12 artist records.

Many of the lots blew past their high estimates, two by at least $10 million (the Guston and the Pollock), and some surpassing their high estimates by a factor of at least two, like an Alexander Calder from 1958, consigned by the estate of Andy Williams, which hammered at $4 million, over a high estimate of $1.8 million. In addition, a Julie Mehretu painting hammered for the same over the same high estimate, and a Joseph Cornell from 1940 hammered at $4.2 million over a high estimate of $700,000.

Just two of the lots failed to sell, a Clyfford Still and a Jeff Koons, and the grand total put the house well over its estimates for the evening, which were $288.9 million to $401.4 million, before premium.

Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen of Christie’s London led a spirited night of bidding, with most lots garnering a healthy number of bids. The record-breaking Pollock, Number 19, 1948 (1948), which eventually sold for $58.3 million with premium, saw three bidders jockeying for it, even after it had passed $40 million.

Read the full story here

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