Business World

Saturday 24 February 2018

'Healthy' night as art auction nets sales of £74m

IT was a "healthy" night of sales at Sotheby's yesterday evening as a contemporary art auction brought in more than £74m (€86m) – the auction house's second-highest total for a February sale of contemporary art in London.

A grand total of £74,364,200 (€85,957,220) was brought in after the sale of paintings by the likes of Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon.

The top lot of the evening's sale was Bacon's oil-on-canvas triptych masterwork 'Three Studies For A Self-Portrait', pictured, which sold for £13,761,250 (€15,910,856) against an estimate of £10-15m (€11.5m-€17.3m).

The work dates from 1980, when the artist was 71. It was painted nine years after the suicide of Bacon's partner, George Dyer, and demonstrates the artist's self-analysis. A telephone buyer fought off competition from two other bidders to buy the artwork.

The piece belongs to a set of 11 triptych self-portraits in Bacon's particular format of 14 by 12 inches.

A Jean-Michel Basquiat painting once owned by the rock band U2 fetched £6.8m (€7.9m) at the sale by Sotheby's.

The UK capital's auction houses, Sotheby's, Christie's International and Phillips, are looking this week to maintain the momentum in New York in November when they raised a record $1.1bn (€800m) from contemporary sales. While there were some high-quality works up for auction, some material was more routine and bidding was less frenzied in London, dealers said.

Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of European contemporary art at Sotheby's, said: "Tonight we witnessed healthy buying activity from across the globe, including from Europe, Asia, the US . . . and the rest of the world.

"This, combined with the depth of bidding on many lots resulted in a total comfortably within estimate and representing Sotheby's second-highest for a February sale of contemporary art in London.

"We are also delighted to announce that the Bacon triptych was acquired by a German collector, Jurgen Hall, who will generously loan the masterwork to a major international institution."

Buyers from 14 countries participated in the auction, which also saw 14 works sell for over £1m (€1.16m).

Warhol's 'Lenin' sold for £2.2m (€2.5m) , while Rothko's 'Untitled' sold for £2.6m (€3m) .

All prices include buyer's premium.

Irish Independent

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