Christie’s generated $274.8 million on 23 March

[26 Mar 2021]

Christie’s pursued its online commitment in the framework of its prestige spring sales with three global live-streamed auctions from London, Hong Kong and New York on 23 March. Dedicated to 20th Century Art, the sessions generated a combined total of $274.8 million and included Jean-Michel BASQUIAT’s Warrior (sold in Hong Kong), a London session and a Surrealist Art sale ($66.2 million) featuring key works by Joan Miró, Max Ernst and René Magritte.

Excellent results were hammered for a number of important works including $20 million for Pablo PICASSO’s Femme nue couchée au collier and there were several new artist’s records including $6.3 million for Jean FAUTRIER (Pièges) and $863,000 for French artist Claire TABOURET (The Last Day, 2016). The auction debut for the young American artist Issy WOOD ended with a result of $346,680 (Over Armor (non-linear, non-violent, 2019) and a canvas entitled No Wahala by the new star of Anglo-Nigerian figurative painting, Joy LABINJO, more than tripled its high estimate, reaching a new record of $208,000. But Christie’s was particularly pleased with two new ‘records’ in particular, one for Banksy and the other for Basquiat.

Banksy crosses $20 million threshold

Until the other day, BANKSY’s auction record stood at $12.2 million (Devolved Parliament, Sotheby’s 2019). Today, that figure has almost doubled – to $23.2 million – after the sale of a 91 x 91 cm square canvas entitled Game Changer. Although estimated between 3 and 5 million dollars, the bidding for this work was stimulated by the charitable dimension of the sale with more than $22 million being donated to Britain’s National Health Service (the details of which are specified in Christie’s post-sale press release).

Basquiat: a new record in Asia

Basquiat’s Warrior – depicting a raging warrior armed with a sword almost on a human scale and from Basquiat’s self-declared best period of 1982 – sold for $41.8 million from Hong Kong. Although some experts expected an even better result, it remained within the estimated range. Nevertheless, it allowed Christie’s to claim that it had achieved the best-ever result ever hammered for a Western artist in Asia, which is indeed true. While some works – notably by Basquiat himself – have already fetched much larger sums from major Asian collectors, this is the first time that a Western work, sold as part of an “Asian” session, has reached such a high figure.

The new owner of the work has acquired a veritable trophy. For Olivier Sallon, Contemporary Art specialist at Christie’s in Paris, this central figure of a very assertive warrior is also a form of allegory for the artist himself, who waged war to be recognized, a form of self-portrait in disguise if you will. A powerful subject indeed for one of the most desirable artists in the world (ranked 6th in our 2020 global ranking by annual auction turnover, with nearly $117 million).

See Top 500 in our last Art Market Report

Price evolution of Basqiat’s Warrior

Since its first auction appearance in 2005, the value of Warrior has shown a phenomenal increase of no less than +4,000%!. By keeping the work in his collection for nine years, the last owner – who acquired it in London – will have made around $30 million.

  • $1.8 million on 9 November 2005 (Sotheby’s, New York).
  • $5.6 million on 21 June 2007 (Sotheby’s, London), a gain of +400% in two years.
  • $8.7 million on 26 June 2012 (Sotheby’s, London), a gain of + 60% in five years.
  • $41.8 million on 23 March 2021 (Christie’s Hong Kong), a gain of +412% since its last appearance at auction.