Christie’s Spring Marquee Week: Realises $640 Million in Sales

Christie's sales

Christie’s New York concluded a triumphant series of six live auctions during its spring marquee week for 20th/21st Century Art sales on 18 May. Led by standout events like the 20th Century Evening Sale, the 21st Century Evening Sale, and the Rosa de la Cruz Collection Evening Sale, the series amassed a market-leading total of $640,219,290. These auctions boasted an impressive sell-through rate of 86% by lot and 94% by value, with 89% of the lots achieving prices within or above their estimates.

Notable works by artist-luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh, and David Hockney headlined the week. Moreover, new records were set for Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ana Mendieta, Martin Wong, Diane Arbus, René Magritte, and Alexander Archipenko.

The sales also showcased significant private collections, including Norman and Lyn Lear, Mary and John Pappajohn, Shirley Ann and Frank Wozencraft, and the entire Rosa de la Cruz Collection Evening Sale.

Warhol’s ‘Flowers Leads 20th Century Evening Sale.

Andy Warhol’s Flowers (1964), an acrylic, fluorescent paint, and silkscreen ink on linen piece, achieved $35,485,000 in the 20th Century Evening Sale on 16 May 2024. The seven-foot canvas, known for its bold aesthetics and use of Day-Glo colour, epitomizes Warhol’s Pop Art vision and significantly contributed to the sale’s success.

Emily Kaplan, Senior Specialist and co-head of the 20th Century Evening Sale, expressed her delight: “It was such a pleasure for us to showcase the greatest collections here at Christie’s.”

Rosa de la Cruz Collection Evening Sale: A Tribute to a Visionary

The Rosa de la Cruz Collection Evening Sale kicked off the auction week on 14 May, realizing $34,363,300 and achieving a 100% sell-through rate by lot and value. Rosa de la Cruz, a renowned collector and philanthropist, was celebrated for her discerning eye and support for artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Ana Mendieta.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (America #3), a 1992 Light String sculpture, fetched $13,635,000, establishing a new record for the artist. The Pola Museum of Art in Hakone, Japan, acquired this piece amidst applause from the auction room. Ana Mendieta’s Untitled (Sandwoman Series/Serie Mujer de Arena) (1983) sold for $567,000, setting a new auction record for the artist.

Julian Ehrlich, Specialist and Head of the Rosa de la Cruz Collection Evening Sale, remarked, “Tonight was a tribute to Rosa and a great success.”

21st Century Evening Sale: Contemporary Art’s Rising Stars

On 14 May, the 21st Century Evening Sale achieved $80,258,980, with 94% sold by lot and 90% by value. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s The Italian Version of Popeye Has No Pork in His Diet (1982) was the top lot, selling for $32,035,000. This piece, unseen in public since Basquiat’s 1992 retrospective at the Whitney, exemplifies his iconic motifs and fetched one of the highest prices of the evening.

Isabella Lauria, Senior Specialist and Head of the 21st Century Evening Sale, noted, “We continue to succeed by being thoughtful and selective in choosing the best examples by artists from the past 40 years.”

20th Century Evening Sale: A Record-Breaking Event

The 20th Century Evening Sale on 16 May achieved the highest individual sale total of the week at $413,324,500, with a 95% sell-through rate by lot and 96% by value. Significant sales included Vincent van Gogh’s Coin de Jardin avec papillons (1887) for $33,185,000 and Claude Monet’s Moulin de Limetz (1888) for $21,685,000.

The Collection of Norman and Lyn Lear was a highlight, totalling $60,175,700, with David Hockney’s A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967) selling for $28,585,000.

Technological Challenges Overcome

Despite a technology security incident, Christie’s successfully conducted all six live auctions, achieving the highest weekly total among auction houses. Bonnie Brennan, president of Christie’s Americas, praised the team’s resilience and passion.

The 20th/21st-century Art online sales remain open for bidding. Picasso Ceramics will close on 3 June, followed by First Open | Post-War and Contemporary Art on 4 June.

Continued Success in Day Sales

Christie’s continued its success with the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale on 17 May, totalling $75,123,450. Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) (1967) sold for $3,680,000, and Bob Thompson’s Music Lesson set a new record at $1,260,000.

The Impressionist and Modern Art Works on Paper Sale and the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 18 May together raised over $31,961,500, led by Salvador Dalí’s Rhinocéros (recto); Etude pour Rhinocéros (verso) (1959), which sold for $1,744,000.

Reflection and Future Prospects

As Christie’s navigates the evolving art market, its recent sales underscore modern and contemporary Art’s resilience and enduring appeal. The impressive results of the spring marquee week highlight Christie’s leadership in the auction world and its ability to attract top-tier collections and buyers. Sign up for “Going Once, our weekly newsletter, for top stories and art market insights.

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