Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction took place this evening and realised £19,063,350 / $31,778,604 / €22,513,816 selling 88% by lot and 86% by value. The top price was paid for Night Playground by Peter Doig (b.1959), 1997/98, an exemplary large scale painting described by the artist as one of his own favourites. It was offered at auction for the first time and realised £3,009,250 / $5,016,420 / €3,553,924, the second highest price for the artist at auction (estimate: £1.5 million to £2 million). A particularly rare urban view, the painting shows night falling on a city playground and portrays the contrast between nature and the man-made. At this evening’s auction, 4 works of art sold for over £1 million / 11 for over $1 million, and buyers (by lot / by origin) were 65% UK and Europe, 29% Americas and 6% Asia.
Francis Outred, International Director and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: ‘We are delighted with the results of our sales tonight which continued the trend of strong sold rates seen in the first 6 months of this year at our international auctions. This evening, an active market saw 86% of lots find buyers in a sale that achieved strong prices – in particular, the outstanding result for Peter Doig’s ‘Night Playground’, which made the second highest price ever achieved for the artist at just over £3 million. What was most interesting was that 80% of works sold within or above their pre-sale estimates, and that we welcomed bids from a significant number of new collectors.’
Further highlights of the sale:
1025 Farben (1025 Colours) by Gerhard Richter (b.1932) realised £1,385,250 / $2,309,212 / €1,635,980, and was offered at auction for the first time having been in the ownership of the present European owner since 1974, the year in which it was painted. From a series considered to coincide with the most fruitful period in the artist’s career, the work sold this evening is from the last and most accomplished group of colour charts which he painted.
Country Nurse, 2003, by Richard Prince (b.1949), one of the largest works created for the artist’s celebrated and highly coveted Nurse series, sold for £1,721,250 / $2,869,324 / €2,032,796. For the Nurse series, Prince mined his own extensive collection of trashy romance novels from the 1950s and 1960s, lifting the protagonists and titles from their lurid covers and immersing them in layers of pigment. An exploration of female stereotypes, the series was subject to great attention in 2003 when Prince photographed Kate Moss for W magazine in front of one of his pictures while she was wearing a suggestive nurse’s outfit.
The auction offered 3 works by Jeff Koons (b. 1955) which represented three distinctive moments from the artist’s career, and all of which were offered at auction for the first time. Moustache, 2003, from the artist’s Popeye series sold this evening for £1,105,250 / $1,842,452 / €1,305,300. Flowers, 1986, from the artist’s Statuary series which also included his masterpiece, Rabbit, sold for £337,250 / $562,196 / €398,292; and Walrus (Blue), executed in 1999, sold for £361,250 / $602,204 / €426,636.
Untitled, by Cy Twombly (b.1928) realised £802,850 / $1,338,351 / €948,166, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £500,000 to £700,000. This important work was executed in 1961, a watershed year in the artist’s career during which he created a number of masterpieces including the Ferragosto series which was recently united in an exhibition dedicated to the artist at Tate Modern last year.
· Rosso Gilera 60 1232 Rosso Guzzi 60 1305 by Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994) sold for £713,250 / $1,188,988 / €842,348 against a pre-sale estimate of £280,000 to £350,000 setting a record price for the artist at auction. Further artist records were established by Transiente by Julie Mehretu (b.1970) which realized £229,250 / $382,160 / €270,744; and Golden Independent Heart, 2004, a 4.5 metre tall, rotating heart made of plastic cutlery by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos (b.1971) whose work has never before been offered at an international auction and which sold for £163,250 / $272,138 / €192,798 (estimate: £80,000 to £120,000).