$45 M. Lichtenstein Tops Christie’s Contemporary Auction

Christie’s is first out of the gate with details about its fall contemporary art evening sale in New York, announcing that a classic 1961 Roy Lichtenstein that shows a man slyly looking through a peephole will headline its Nov. 8 auction, where it is expected to sell for between $35 and $45 million.

Though the owner of the Lichtenstein, titled I Can See the Whole Room… and There’s Nothing in it… (the complete text emerging in a speech bubble from the man’s mouth), is not listed in the catalogue, The Wall Street Journal reports that it is being sold by Courtney Ross, the widow of Steve Ross, the onetime CEO of Time Warner. The couple owned the painting for 23 years.

Before Mr. and Mrs. Ross owned the work, it was in collection of Connecticut collectors Burton and Emily Hall Tremaine, Bloomberg notes. The Tremaines were pioneering purchasers of contemporary art in New York in the 1960s, the Lichtenstein was photographed by Louise Lawler when she made a series of images inside their home, in 1984.

Lichtenstein has received increased attention from various parts of the art world recently. New York Times critic Roberta Smith noted last year that a large number of galleries and museums had organized shows of the Pop artist’s work. The market has rallied as well, setting an auction record for the artist when his 1964 Ohhh… Alright sold for $42.6 million, including buyer’s premium, at last year’s November auction. (The Times reported at the time that some New York dealers had been trying to sell it for $50 million, though that number proved a nonstarter.) On Christie’s website, you can watch a video of Ohh…Alright hammering for $38 million.

Also heading to the block at Christie’s are works by dependably blue chip names like Richter and Warhol. The house’s day sale, the next day, will feature a collection of Minimalist, Arte Povera and Conceptual works from the collection of Belgian buyers Anton and Annick Herbert, The Journal adds.

Rival house Sotheby’s, whose auction is scheduled for Nov. 9, should be sharing its top lots shortly.

$45 M. Lichtenstein Tops Christie’s Contemporary Auction