Frieze Week Auctions: In a testament to resilience amidst market uncertainties, Christie’s 20th/21st Century Evening Sale in London held its ground, echoing last year’s performance.
Christie’s London achieved a total of £78.7 million (£96.5 million with fees) across two evening sales, with the 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale contributing £44.7 million (£54.5 million with fees) to this figure. The sale saw strong sell-through rates of 85% by lot and 89% by value, reaffirming the enduring strength of the London art market. Key highlights included records for artists such as Kees van Dongen, Félix Vallotton, and Paula Rego, demonstrating the market’s diverse appetite.
Leading the lot was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic five-foot square collage, “Future Sciences Versus the Man” (1982), which sold for £10.4 million ($12.6 million) to a guarantor. While none of the top lots exceeded their estimates, notable sales included Paula Rego’s diptych “Dancing Ostriches from Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia'” (1995), which set a new record for the artist, realising £3.1 million ($3.8 million). Adding several British artists, in line with Sadiq Khan’s initiative to promote London as a creative capital, added depth to the auction.
Amidst this, London continued to serve as a vibrant international platform for new artists, with works by Jonathan Gardner and Honor Titus finding buyers. Additionally, Christie’s collaboration with the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) to raise funds for MOWAA initiatives showcased London’s commitment to philanthropy in the art world.
Despite the challenges, Christie’s 20th/21st Century Evening Sale showcased the adaptability and resilience of the London art market, leaving an indelible mark in the face of ongoing market adjustments. The auction industry continues to navigate the complexities of the contemporary art landscape, with London standing as a beacon of stability amidst global fluctuations.
What Sold (or Didn’t Sell)
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Future Sciences Versus the Man achieved the second-highest price. Evening, selling for £10,430,000 The 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale realised a total of £44,691,420 / €51,618,590 / $54,523,532, selling 88% by lot and 89% by value
Christie’s continues to lead the market for prestigious private collections, with the first in a series of sales dedicated to the scholarly vision of Sam Josefowitz. Masterpieces from the Collection of Sam
Josefowitz: A Lifetime of Discovery and Scholarship realised a total of £51,844,800 / $63,250,656 / €59,880,744, setting records for Félix Vallotton, Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Aristide Maillol (a record for a painting by the artist)
The creative impact and legacy of pioneering British artists were represented throughout the 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale with a new market benchmark for Paula Rego. Further records were achieved for British artists Pam Evelyn and Sahara Longe:
Paula Rego’s Dancing Ostriches from Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ set a new benchmark for the artist’s market at auction, realising a world auction record price of £3,065,000
Offered at auction for the first time by Christie’s, Pam Evelyn’s Worked on Earth achieved a new world auction record for the artist (£113,400)
Sahara Longe’s Party Scene sold for a world auction record price of £176,400 against an estimate of £40,000-60,000
Peter Doig’s House of Pictures (Haus der Bilder) was a highlight of the 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale, selling for £6,060,000
Three records were set during Masterpieces from the Collection of Sam Josefowitz: A Lifetime of Discovery and Scholarship.
Félix Vallotton’s Cinq heures set a world auction record for the artist (£3,670,000)
Aristide Maillol’s Portrait de Mademoiselle Jeanne Faraill (£2,399,500), a record for a painting by the artist
Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Autumn – Five Crosses: A preliminary work for the fresco in the Jusélius
Mausoleum (£1,008,000), a world auction record for the artist
Additional highlights reflect the breadth and diversity of Sam Josefowitz’s unerring eye
Diego Giacometti, La console ‘Hommage à Böcklin’ (£5,122,000)
A Wood Sculpture of a Standing Jizo Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha) (£3,670,000)
Albrecht Dürer Rhinoceros (£604,800)
An Assyrian Gypsum Relief of a Winged Genius (£3,912,000)
Kees van Dongen, Nuages, ou Guus van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues (£2,460,000)
Salvo’s Il giorno fu pieno di lampi la sera verranno le stelle (The Day was full of Lightning in the evening stars will come out) was the first work by the artist to be offered in a Christie’s Evening Sale. Its vibrant landscape attracted 22 bidders competing to deliver a world auction record price of £693,000 against an estimate of £80,000-120,000
An additional record was achieved for Winston Branch’s The Magic is in You (£239,400)
London continues to provide an international platform for new artists at auction, and this season included:
Jonathan Gardner’s Black Cherries (£151,200) and Honor Titus, Clay Court (£66,520)
This year, Christie’s and the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) are collaborating to raise funds for MOWAA initiatives, including their presentation at La Biennale di Venezia, 2024 and the 20-acre Creative District in Benin City, including the Rainforest Gallery.
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones’s Reverse Dive Red sold for £75,600
RECAPPING THE STATS
The 20th / 21st Century: London Evening Sale
Total Realised £44,691,420 / €51,618,590 / $54,523,532
Lots offered: 52
Lots sold: 45
Sell-through rates of 88% by lot / 89% by value.
Masterpieces from the Collection of Sam Josefowitz: A Lifetime of Discovery and Scholarship
Total Realised £51,844,800 / €59,880,744 / $63,250,656
Lots offered: 38
Lots sold: 31
Sell-through rates of 82% by lot / 90% by value.
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