Astronomical Warhol Koons And Bacon Results Defy Art Market Skeptics

Oh what a crazy week for contemporary and modern art at auction: Despite a lot of hot air in the art press over the last few days, with speculation of whether the art market bubble (or balloon in some cases) was about to burst, the climate has again proven the sceptics to be wrong, with results mounting well over the billion dollar mark. Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog (Orange) Lot 12, carrying an estimate of $35,000,000-55,000,000 sold for $62m including commission fees, setting a record price for a living artist, ‘it ain’t over till it’s over’!  “It looks so regal outside in Rockefeller Plaza as it guards our building, and it was wonderful to watch so many people having their photos taken with the work, glistening in the sun”. said Bret Gorvey department head for Christie’s Contemporary, the man, along with dealer Larry Gagosian responsible for pushing Koons’ prices to the limit, agrees ‘the market will continue to rise’. The result smashed Koons’s previous auction record of $33 million and beat the auction house’s Gerhard Richter sale, at $55 million last year.

The yellow panels of Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud estimated to sell for $85m but realising  a staggering £90 ($142.4) million breaks the ceiling for the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction.The price exceeded the $120 million paid for Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” which set a world record when it was sold at Sotheby’s in a 2012 sale. The Bacon was bought by a New York dealer on behalf of an anonymous buyer.

A number of important Warhol’s were also on offer including Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) which sold for $105m (£65.5m) breaking the artist’s record by more than $30m. Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) formally owned by Charles Saatchi, shows the aftermath of a fatal accident, with a gruesome body crushed within the mangled interior of a vehicle. It is one of four double-panel car crash paintings that Warhol created in 1963. Warhol’s previous auction record was set in 2007, when $71.7m (£44.2m) was paid for Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I). Five bidders went as high as $80m (£50m), said auctioneer Tobias Meyer. Sotheby’s did not identify the winner, who franticly bid by telephone.  Andy Warhol’s “Coca-Cola (3),” an oversized depiction of America’s favourite drink, sold to a telephone buyer from the U.S. for $57.3 million at Christie’s.

While Mark Rothko’s No. 11 (Untitled) (Lot 21, $25,000,000-35,000,000) sold to Daniel Loeb, who is Sotheby’s largest shareholder, for $46 million. Jackson Pollock’s 1949 abstract, “Number 16, 1949,” sold for $32.6 million, above its $35 million top estimate, and Willem de Kooning’s $32 million “Untitled VIII,” sold to art adviser, Nancy Whyte topping the artist’s previous auction record. Christie’s also realised $26.4 million for contemporary artist Christopher Wool (not exactly a household name) “Apocalypse Now”,1988, which sold to dealer Christophe van de Weghe. A Lucio Fontana also sold for $20.9 million. Eric Clapton sold a second Gerhard Richter painting at Christie’s for $20.8 million and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting representing two drugged figures estimated at $25–35 million sold for $48.8 million.


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