New York sales: key figures

[19 Nov 2018]

After the records hammered at New York’s prestige Impressionist and Modern Art sales (including records for René Magritte, Oskar Kokoschka, Jean Arp and Tamara de Lempicka), the city’s prestige Contemporary Art sales have just generated even stronger results, with two works close to the 100 million threshold at Christies.

Christie’s announces a turnover total of over 1 billion…

The masterpieces in the Barney Alec Ebsworth Collection dispersed by Christie’s generated $317.8 million on 13 November, including an outstanding new record approaching the 9-digit threshold for Edward Hopper. Two days later, the same company’s Post-War & Contemporary Art sale generated $357.6 million with “only” 85% of the lots sold. Combined with their totals from other sales in November, the powerful auctioneer has managed to sell over a billion dollars worth of 20th century artworks this season, a figure that is stable compared to last year’s results (excluding the $450 million from LEONARDO DA VINCI’s Salvator Mundi which Christie’s included in its Contemporary art sale on 15 November 2017 and which considerably inflated the overall result on that date to $785.9 million).

During the intense week of sales just ended, several artists reached new peaks including Willem DE KOONING with $69 million for Woman as Landscape and the French abstract painter Pierre SOULAGES with $10.6 million for Peinture 186 x 143 cm, 23 décembre 1959 (his first ever 8-digit result). Several works sold above the $20 million line, including Richard DIEBENKORN’s Ocean Park # 137 (confirming his world record achieved last May), Francis BACON’s Study of Henrietta Moraes Laughing and Jean-Michel BASQUIAT’s Discography Two. But the two most anticipated results of the week were for Hopper and Hockney, who both achieved new records above the $90 million line…


Nearly $ 92 million for Hopper

At Christie’s 13 November sale, Hopper’s Chop Suey (1929) sold for nearly $92 million, a new all-time auction record for the American artist. Purchased for $180,000 by B.A. Ebsworth in 1973, the painting more than doubled the artist’s previous record set in 2013 at $40.5 million for East Wind Over Weehawken. The most important Hopper canvas still in private hands according to Christie’s was carrying an estimate of $70 – $100 million. Chop Suey now takes 18th position in the global ranking of the highest results ever hammered for works of Fine Art. At $92 million, the painting beats Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adèle Bloch-Bauer II which fetched $88 million in 2006.


Hockney… world’s most expensive living artist

As expected, David Hockney became the world’s most expensive living artist on 15 November with Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures). Starting at $18 million, the bidding took nine minutes to reach a new record of $90.3 million. The poolside double-portrait has substantially dwarfed the ‘living artist’ record held by Jeff Koons since his Balloon Dog (Orange) sold at Christie’s five years ago.


Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale: even stronger than Christie’s…

In just 24 hours Sotheby’s sold 100% of the lots in its dispersion of David Teiger’s Collection (for a total of $48.5 million), six works by Basquiat generating a total of $50.2 million, an abstract painting by Gerhard Richter for $32 million and hammered three new records for African-American art, a hot trend in the Contemporary Art market. These new records take Jacob Lawrence to $6.2 million with his disturbing canvas The Businessmen; Jack Whitten to $2.2 million, doubling the high estimate for Ancient Mentor I, and Henry TAYLOR to the $1 million threshold, with I’ll Put a Spell on You (sold $975,000). Four days after its Impressionist & Modern Art sale ($315.5 million), Sotheby’s generated $362 million from its Contemporary Art sale on 14 November… a couple of million more than Christie’s.