Bonhams Boosts Boetti Bonanza

bonanza Bonhams Boosts Boetti Bonanza

Alighiero Boetti's "1984" drawing suite, from 1985. The work could set an artist record at Bonhams in October. (Photo: Bonhams)

Auction house Bonhams is planning to enter the contemporary art market in October with a sale during the week of the Frieze Art Fair in October in London, and it is doing so in high style, offering a 30-foot-long drawing by the Arte Povera artist Alighiero Boetti, with a £1.2 million to £1.8 million estimate ($2 million to $3 million). It could prove to be a superb choice, as the late Italian artist’s market is currently red hot.

The work’s low estimate almost matches Boetti’s all-time auction record, Bloomberg notes, which was made at Christie’s London last year, when one of his iconic world-map tapestries demolished its £1.2 million high estimate, selling for £1.83 million ($2.76 million). Back in May of this year, another map sold for $2.32 million at Christie’s New York, trouncing its $1.8 million high estimate.

A quick record search shows that an astounding nine of Boetti’s top ten auction prices have come in the last three years. While seven of those ten have been for map tapestries, other works from the artist’s oeuvre have been performing well on the block in recent years, and they fill many of the spaces just beyond the top ten, meaning that broad-based support may be building for his work on the international art market.

Leading international dealers have shown Boetti a great deal in recent years. Sprüth Magers organized shows in Berlin, London, Cologne and Munich over the past decade, and in New York, Barbara Gladstone and Marianne Boesky have both hosted recent Boetti shows. There is also a retrospective planned, which will open at Tate Modern in Feb. 2012, and then travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Reina Sofia in Madrid.