Flash News: Banksy’s latest record…, The rise of Flora Yukhnovich, The hottest signatures at Christie’s

[22 Oct 2021]

Banksy’s latest record…

In the 2020/21 period (30 June – 1 July) BANKSY accounted for 15% of the UK’s total fine art auction turnover and 7% of the global auction turnover hammered in the Contemporary art auction segment. On 14 October last, Sotheby’s London sold one of the most anticipated works of the fall season: Banksy’s Love is in the Bin (formerly Girl with Balloon). And somewhat unsurprisingly the ultra-popular art market star has generated yet another massive profit.

The 7th lot in Sotheby’s prestige Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Love is in the Bin sparked “a wave of fierce bidding”, with the iconic piece finally selling for $25.4 million after nine bidders fought it out for ten-minutes. Sotheby’s described it as the first artwork in history to have been created live at an auction. It is of course this same painting (then titled Girl with Balloon) that partially self-destroyed three years ago in front of a dumbfounded public after being hammered down for over a million dollars by the same auctioneer. It was October 2018. Having concealed a shredding device in the painting’s frame, the event was orchestrated remotely by Banksy himself.

This time, the partially shredded Love is in the Bin tripled its $8.2 million high estimate reaching 18 times its 2018 price (i.e. just before its partially self-destructed). This latest result ($25.4 million) clearly bears no relation whatsoever to the works ‘pre-shred’ value. Back then, the BBC’s Will Gompertz opined that the cleverly staged Banksy stunt marked a pivotal moment in auction history and that ‘the work’ de facto became “one of the most important of the early 21st century”. This view has now been confirmed by the recent price. The result also renews the personal auction record of the Contemporary art market’s second most popular artist (after Basquiat)… and the fifth most popular all periods combined (after Claude Monet!). In short… Banksy has now become an absolute giant of the global art market.

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Artists ranked by auction turnover (H1 2021)

1. Pablo PICASSO (Modern Art): $352.1 million

2. Jean-Michel BASQUIAT (Contemporary Art): $303.5 million

3. Andy WARHOL (Post-War): $149.98 million

4. Claude MONET (19th century): $131.6 million

5. BANKSY (Contemporary Art): $123.3 million

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The meteoric rise of Flora Yukhnovich

Hammered down at $3 million against a high estimate of $109,000? Yes… that also happened at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London on 14 October. The work in question was a painting by Flora YUKHNOVICH (1990) titled I’ll Have What She’s Having (2020) which sold after eight minutes of intense bidding. Last June, this 31-year-old artist had already attracted vigorous bidding at Philips with Pretty Little Thing (2019), a 2019 painting fetching nearly $1.2 million, more than 12 times its initial estimate.

Painting in the spirit Art History describes as Rococo, Yukhnovich re-imagines works by 18th century artists like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, François Boucher, Nicolas Lancret and Jean-Antoine Watteau while adding her own references. Her work is now clearly the object of a genuine wave of enthusiasm among major collectors and art investors.

Since graduating from the City & Guilds of London Art School in 2017, Flora Yukhnovich has exhibited at the Parafin Gallery (London), the GASK (Czech Republic), the Jerwood Gallery (Hastings), the Blenheim Walk Gallery (Leeds) and, above all, joined the Victoria Miro gallery in January 2021. For Victoria Miro, “Flora is one of the most fascinating painters of her generation. Her dynamic approach results in work that refers to art history while being fresh and relevant today. Her 2019 residency at our Venice Gallery to study painters like Tiepolo resulted in exceptional work that we exhibited last year (in 2020).” In 2022, the gallery will devote a solo exhibition to this “contemporary master in the making” (as she is described in Sotheby’s sales catalog). But before the solo show at Victoria Miro’s London gallery, Flora Yukhnovich is already imposing her Rococo style between abstraction and figuration on the secondary market, which, in anticipation of a demand bottleneck for this hot new signature, is already driving prices sky high.

The day after the exceptional result of $3 million hammered at Sotheby’s (on 14 October), another Yukhnovich painting (Tondo (2018) was offered at Phillips where it fetched ten times its estimate at $728,000. Yet another (Untitled, 85.5 x 75 cm) – completed just a few months ago – multiplied Christie’s high estimate on 16 October by 30 when it fetched $1.2 million, adding yet another 7-digit result to the market of this new star of Contemporary painting.

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Christie’s confirms the hottest signatures on today’s Contemporary art market

Last week, Christie’s short (but intense) London sale of 20th and 21st century art offered 36 works to bidders. Apart from the extraordinary result at over $10 million for a work by the African-American artist Hurvin Anderson, a number of other artists buried their estimates. Here is a brief summary of the most remarkable results from Christie’s 15 October prestige sale.

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Hurvin ANDERSON (1965)

Audition (1998)

Estimate: $1.3 to $2 million

Price including fees: $10.1 million

The result added $6.7 million to the artist’s personal auction record and represents a substantial turning point in the artist’s market prices.

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Nicolas PARTY (1980)

Back with Gloves (2017)

Estimate: $413,000 – $688,000

Price including fees: $1.1 million

This is Party’s fourth 7-digit (USD) result in 12 months.

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Shara HUGHES (1981)

Me Me Me (2009)

Estimate: $137,600 – $206,000

Price including fees: $550,300

The same day at Philips, another Hughes work fetched a new record at over $1 million.

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Hilary PECIS (1979)

Kaba on a Chair

Estimate: $55,000 – $82,500

Price including fees: $309,000

The final price was not surprising given the buzz around Pecis over the past year.

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Emily Mae SMITH (1979)

Paint While Screaming (2017)

Estimate: $27,500 – $41,300

Price including fees: $163,400

A small work measuring 35.6 x 27.9 cm. In recent months, her larger works have crossed the $1 million threshold.