Lehman Art Auction Raises £1.6 Million

Here are the highlighted results of the Lehman sale which took place on the 29th September 2010 at Christies South Kensington. The sale set a European record for the number of registered online bidders, with more than 1,200 people signing up to own a piece of financial history.

a plaque commemorating the opening of the Lehman’s Canary Wharf offices by Gordon Brown in 2004 realized

 £23,000. It was sold to a telephone bidder, smashing its £1,000-£1,500 estimate.

Bidding was brisk for a Lehman Brothers corporate sign, which carried an estimate of up to £3,000 but went for £34,000.


But the top lot on the night was “Atomists: Jump over” by Gabriel Orozco, which realized around £99,000 followed by “Madonna” by Gary Hume rwhich realized £73 000 and “L’embarquement de La Normandie au Havre” by Theophile Poilpot fetched £66 000.

“The prices achieved in today’s auction demonstrate just how much interest there is in anything related to the collapse of Lehman Brothers two years ago,” said Barry Gilbertson, partner at PwC responsible for releasing value from Lehman’s assets.

ArtLyst commented:


There were no masterpieces in this sale, which is why it was  allocated to Christies South Kensington, instead of their Kings Street headquarters. This was strictly a sale of mementos and bin ends with some second rate art thrown in for good measure.The better works have already been sold in the main New York and London rooms or privately placed.

Meanwhile on the same day,in New York,The high end corporate art collection of Lehman Brothers’s fetched $12.3m at Sotheby’s. Those behind the liquidation of Lehman Brothers – declared bankrupt in 2008 – laid down a vast 142 works which went up on the block in a bid to raise funds to pay off cut-short creditors. Works included those of John Baldessari, Gerhard Richter and Glenn Ligon. A Julie Mehretu painting from 2001 fetched $1m, the largest bid of the night. Damien Hirst’s 1993 cabinet We’ve Got Style (The Vessel Collection –Blue/Green), with an asking price of $800,000, struck a bum note however, failing to sell.

The banking crisis which began at Lehman is far from over and lot 1001 a metal plaque celebrating the opening of their European headquarters in 2004 by Gordon Brown, is a grim reminder of the good times. Both Lehmans and Brown are long gone and rapidly becoming a distant and acrid memory.

As for the credit crunch spoils,Christie’s is auctioning art from Lucian Freud to Gary Hume along with every day items including metal signs, the collected works of Dickens and a number of leather clad bins from the offices. All of these lots are integral parts of the hollow stage set  used to front the British and European offices of a bank that seemed as solid as they get for more than 100 years.

The income will go into to the pot, which will eventually  be distributed to the creditors,including the UK government and  the taxpayer. Given the sale is expected to reach in the region of £1m, it is only “a small dividend”. Some way short, it has to be said, of the £11bn of assets being claimed.

As for cutting edge modern works? Not their style. Risk was taken in sub-prime junk bonds rather then Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons blue chip commodities.

The Sale takes place on 29th September Christies South Kensington

More Sale Information