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  1. Wealth
January 2, 2013

Sotheby’s Review of 2012

By Spear's

At auction in 2012, Sotheby’s achieved the highest-ever price for a work of art; the highest-ever price for a drawing; and a new record price for the work of any living artist

At auction, Sotheby’s achieved:

Munch’s, The Scream sells for $119.9 (£73.9m)

Raphael, Head of a Young Apostle sells for £29.7m ($47.9m)

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (809-4) sells for £21.3m ($34.2m)

As well as records and record totals across a wide-range of categories 2012 has been an exceptional year for Sotheby’s with record prices achieved in its New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris sale rooms in all the major collecting categories:

• Highest-ever price for any work of art at auction: Edvard Munch’s The Scream – $119.9m (£73.9m) (€91m) in New York, May 2012 (pictured above).

• Highest price for an Impressionist or Modern work at auction in Europe this year: Joan Miró’s Peinture (Étoile Bleue) – £23.6m ($36.9m) (€29.3m) in London June 2012. This was also a new record for the artist at auction.

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• Highest-ever total for an auction of Impressionist & Modern art at Sotheby’s worldwide: Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale – New York, May 2012 achieved $330.6m (£203.8m) (€250.9m).

• Highest auction total in Sotheby’s history across all sale categories: Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, November 2012 achieved $375.2m (£236.3m) (€295.5m).

• A new auction record for the work of any living artist: Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (809-4) – £21.3m ($34.2m) (€26.4m) in London, October 2012.

Read more: Sotheby’s sells Richter for record £21.3m

• New auction records were set for major artists including:

Jackson Pollock – Number 4, 1951 – $40.4m (£25.5m) (€31.8m) in New York, November 2012.
Roy Lichtenstein – Sleeping Girl – $44.9m (£27.8m) (€34.5m) in New York, May 2012.

• Other strong prices achieved for:

Mark Rothko – No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue) – $75.1m (£47.3m) (€59.2m) in New York, November 2012 (pictured above).
Francis Bacon – Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror – $44.9m (£27.8) (€34.6m) in New York, May 2012.

In the year that saw London’s first edition of the Frieze Masters art fair, Sotheby’s established:

• Highest-ever price for a drawing at auction & highest price across all auction categories in Europe this year: Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle (pictured left), from the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth, sold for £29.7m ($47.9m) (€36.6m) in December. This was the second highest price ever achieved for an Old Master work at auction, second only to Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents sold at Sotheby’s London in July 2002 for £49.5m.

Read more: Why it’s time to start buying Old Master drawings

• Other strong prices achieved for:

Canaletto – View of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo… from the Estate of Lady Forte sold for $5.7m in New York, January 2012
Jan Havicksz. Steen – The Prayer Before the Meal, from the collection at Sudeley Castle, achieved £5.6m in London, December 2012.
Willem van de Velde the Younger – The Surrender of the Royal Prince during the Four Days’ Battle sold for £5.3m ($8.3m) (€6.6m) in London, July 2012.
Lucas Cranach the Elder- Lucretia brought $5.1m in January in New York.
Canaletto – a world record of £1.9m ($3.1m) (€2.4) was established for a Canaletto work on paper, when a view of the Campo di San Giacomo di Rialto sold for more than 4 times the previous record in London in July 2012.

• A new world auction record price per carat for a deep blue diamond: an exceptionally rare 10.48 carat fancy deep blue briolette diamond sold in Geneva on 14 November 2012 for CHF 10.3m ($10.9m) ($1,036,273 per carat). This was also an auction record for a briolette diamond (pictured left).

• An exceptional price for The Beau Sancy – One of the most important royal diamonds ever to come to auction: Sold in Geneva on 15 May 2012 for CHF 9.04m ($9.7m), almost five times the pre-sale low estimate.

• A new world auction record for any clock: The Duc d’Orléans Breguet Sympathique achieved $6.8m (£4.2m) (€5.2) in New York on 4 December 2012.

• A new world record for a various-owner jewellery auction: On May 14 and 15, Sotheby’s two-day Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels Sale set a new world record of $108,377,219 for a various owner jewellery sale, surpassing the record set by Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2010 of $105 million.

• Record for a various-owner sale of watches at Sotheby’s worldwide Sotheby’s auction of Important Watches in Hong Kong achieved over HK$120m (US$15m) on 8 October 2012, the highest ever total for a sale of Important Watches at Sotheby’s worldwide.

• Legendary private collections:

Suzanne Belperron – Geneva, 15 May 2012
Brooke Astor – New York, 25 September 2012
Estée Lauder & Evelyn H. Lauder – New York, 5 December 2012
Mrs. Charles Wrightsman – New York, 5 December 2012
The George Daniels Horological Collection – London, 6 November 2012
Henry Graves, Jr. and Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr., New York, 14 June 2012 2012

Sale Highlights
• A new world auction record for Song Ceramics – An Outstanding Ruyao Washer From The Northern Song Dynasty sold for HK$207.86 Million (US$26.65 Million) in April 2012, more than tripling the pre-sale estimate.

• Auction record for Contemporary Chinese artist Liu Wei Liu Wei’s Revolutionary Family Series – Invitation To Dinner sold for HK$17.46m (US$2.24m) in October 2012.

• Auction record for a Southeast Asian painting: Fortune and Longevity by Indonesian modern master Lee Man Fong sold for HK$34.26m
(US$4.4m) in October 2012.

• Record sale of Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian art In October 2012, Sotheby’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings commanded HK$121m (US$15.5m).

• An Exceptionally Rare, Large Pair Of Gold Screens By Qi Baishi, Willows At The Riverside; Begonias (1922), fetched HK$70.1 m (US$9 m) in April 2012.

Inaugural Auctions

• Sotheby’s (Beijing) Auction Co., Ltd, the first international Fine Art Auction House in China, held an historic first auction in Beijing at The Millennium Hall of Beijing World Art Museum on 27 September 2012.

• Sotheby’s held its inaugural auction of Asian and Western Contemporary Art in Asia: The BOUNDLESS: CONTEMPORARY ART auction achieved HK$47.7m (US$6.1m) in December 2012.

Selling Exhibitions
• Sotheby’s held its first Asian selling exhibition of outdoor sculpture: Seventeen works by the internationally renowned artist Zadok Ben-David are on view in the exotic setting of Singapore Botanic Gardens (23 October 2012 to 31 January 2013).

• Sotheby’s held its first selling exhibition of European decorative arts in Asia: The Age of Elegance, an exhibition of European Paintings, Furniture and Works of Art from the 19th Century, took place in November 2012.

• Sotheby’s held the launch of its newly-constructed Hong Kong Gallery on the 5th Floor of One Pacific Place in May 2012 – the first in almost forty years of the company’s history in Asia. To celebrate the opening of the new gallery, a unique selling exhibition of works by contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, YAYOI KUSAMA – Hong Kong Blooms in My Mind

Read more on art and auctions from Spear’s

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