Polke Beats Richter In £46 Million Christie’s Sale

Sigmar Polke

Sigmar Polke’s status had a further boost at Christie’s London on Monday; with the evening sale of the Essl Collection, the prices for the German artist’s work increased, with five works by Polke originally estimated at an aggregate price of £8 million, ended up selling for just over £16 million, bringing Polke closer to his fellow master, Gerhard Richter.

Christie’s sold 46.9 million pounds of postwar and contemporary art at the start of Frieze week in London, yet works by Gerhard Richter estimated at as much as 10 million pounds failed to find a buyer at the auction.

The 44 works up for auction were from the Essl Collection of contemporary art in Austria. The collection originated from Karlheinz Essl, who was the founder of Austrian hardware-store chain BauMax AG. The collection included works by coveted German postwar artists. The privately owned Essl Museum near Vienna, holding a total of 7,000 works, offered the 44 pieces to raise money to “resolve certain financial issues in the business,” Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie’s Europe, said in an interview with Bloomberg.

The highlights of the auction included Polke’s ‘bright Indian with Eagle’, 1975, which Essl bought in 1997 for $200,500, selling for £5.1 million which was estimated at £1.5 million to £2 million.

The sale produced a total that fell within Christie’s presale estimated range of 40 million to 56.8 million pounds. Christie’s has stated that it was the most valuable sale ever in London of a private collection of postwar and contemporary art.


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