Home Arts Christie’s is holding a 21st Century Safe Evening Sale in New York, fueled in large part by a $58m Basquiat

Christie’s is holding a 21st Century Safe Evening Sale in New York, fueled in large part by a $58m Basquiat

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Christie’s New York fetched $83.6 million ($98.8 million with fees) in the auction house’s 21st Century Evening Sale Tuesday, May 15, led by El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile) by Jean Michel-Basquiat (1983), one of the most valuable works to be auctioned this month, although buyers’ appetites seem tempered.

The price of the great Basquiat, estimated ‘at over $45 million’, was pushed higher by a steady stream of multiple bidders, including mega-dealer Larry Gagosian, who attended the auction in person . After five minutes of bidding, Gagosian finally backed down, and the painting was hammered well above estimate, for $58 million ($67.1 million with fees) to a telephone bidder.

The Big Showthe eight-digit result of represents the fourth highest price ever achieved by a work by Basquiat at auction. Accounting for more than half of the auction total, it was also one of two works to carry a third-party guarantee. The painting was donated by Italian designer Valentino Garavani, who bought it at auction in 2016 for $5.2 million. The sale of the painting served for certain observers as proof that the Basquiat market, which jumped in 2021hasn’t completely cooled yet.

“People had huge amounts of excess capital and had to put it somewhere – they put a lot of it into art, and Basquiat was one of the star artists who attracted a lot of it,” said the art dealer from Manhattan Todd Levin before the sale. “Now the tap is off and we are going to have to see if these prices continue or rise or not.”

Untitled (Beauty and the Damned) (2013) by Cecily Brown Courtesy of Christie’s

Besides The Big Show, bids for the rest of the lots were relatively lukewarm, although the sale total was well below Christie’s presale estimate for the night. Seven artist auction records were set yesterday, including five women.

The massive and fleshy canvas Untitled (Beauty and the Damned) (2013) by Cecily Brown hammered in $5.5 million ($6.7 million with fees), comfortably within the auction house’s $5-7 million estimate. Pumpkin (1993) by Yayoi Kusama was the only other work in the sale to have been guaranteed by a third party and sold for $4 million ($4.9 million including fees). THE late Etel Adnan California (2002) picked up bidders at a slow but steady pace, eventually selling for $280,000 ($352,800 with fees), about five times Christie’s estimate. The sale later set the new record for Diane Arbus at auction when a set of ten of her photographs sold for $800,000, or just over $1 million including fees. glen (2021) by Emma Webster also fetched more than three times its estimate, and a sculpture by Simone Leigh, recent recipient of the Golden Lion at the 2022 Venice Biennale, sold for $2.2 million (2 .7 million with fees), making its new auction record.

by Danielle McKinney We need to talk (2020) Courtesy of Christie’s

Perhaps the most exciting batch of the evening was that of Danielle McKinney We need to talk (2020), which grossed $160,000 ($201,600 with fees). The room started buzzing as soon as the painting went up for sale, and several bidders quickly pushed the result into the six figures. The intimate portrait of a young woman reclining across a bed ended up selling for eight times its low estimate of $20,000. The sale marked the auction debut of McKinney, whose work has been acquired by numerous museum collections and is beginning to attract significant interest from serious collectors, Levin said.

Two works by Louis Fratino, a young artist born in 1993, also caused a sensation last night. The first of Fratino’s lots, a portrait of a reclining nude man called Euchre (2017), stirred up several bidders and hammered $220,000 ($277,200 with fees) against an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. The second table, Night Train (2016) attracted fewer bidders, but still hammered in $200,000 ($252,000 with fees). Only one lot from the sale remained unsold, when that of Julien Nguyen Kill Bill: Volume 3 (2017) was passed over after struggling to hit six-figure bids.

Yesterday marked Christie’s second evening sale of the season, after grossing $426.6 million ($506.5 million with fees) on a evening sale in two parts last week (May 11) which included works from the collections of the late billionaires SI Newhouse and Paul G. Allen. Christie’s has now sold $725 million (with fees) this season, including a one-day sale, an auction house spokesperson said.

A spokesperson noted that the May 11 sale featured a balanced number of bidders from the Americas, Asia and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This auction may have seen more bidding action due to the relatively low prices, and more people could participate competitively, Levin said.

Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s estimate their spring sale in new york will collectively fetch more than $2.2 billion, despite wealthy collectors reluctant to spend large sums on the art amid uncertain economic factors like war, failing banks, inflation and rising interest rates .

“There were a lot of people who got used to a constant flow of money, and they relied on it, thinking the music wouldn’t stop,” Levin said. “If it doesn’t stop yet, it’s definitely slowing down considerably.”

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