Jasper Johns’ Flag Fetches $36 Million At Sotheby’s And Sets New Auction Record

Jasper Johns

Co-Head of Sotheby’s Global Contemporary Art Department Alexander Rotter, commented to Art Daily: “It has been a wonderful start to our week of Contemporary Art sales, with the running total now above $460 million, and a very strong day sale yet to come. Having known and admired Jasper Johns’ final encaustic Flag for decades, we were thrilled to see it establish a new record for the artist at auction.”

The sale achieved outstanding prices for works that had been tucked away in The Schlumberger Collection for a generation, these included Mark Rothko’s sublime No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) and Jean Dubuffet’s masterful Cité Fantoche, which also set a new record. Sotheby’s also had the unprecedented privilege of offering three major canvases by Rothko from key moments in the artist’s career with very positive results.

The auction saw a sell through rate of 85.9%, marking the 13th consecutive Evening Sale of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s New York with a sell-through rate of over 80% with global participation evident throughout the sale process. Works consigned from 12 countries on five continents were sought after by participants from 38 countries including nearly 40% from outside ofthe US, with participation from Latin America and Asia.

The sale was led by Mark Rothko’s No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) from The Schlumberger Collection which was sought by five bidders before selling for $44,965,000 to applause from the house. The iconic work from 1951 has been in The Schlumberger Collection – the compendium of Modern and Contemporary masterworks acquired by distinguished collectors and benefactors Pierre and São Schlumberger, was last seen in public in 1970.

Other works from Schlumberger Collection that performed well included Jean Dubuffet’s Cité Fantoche which set a record for the artist when it sold for $7,445,000. Jasper Johns’ 1983 Flag is among the most recognisable works of American Art and sold for the sum of $36,005,000. This sale set a new record for the artist at auction after an extended contest between six bidders with the price estimated at $15/20 million.


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