Saatchi Art Sets Records

A slew of multimillion-dollar contemporary art sales in London last week fared pretty well, with 70 percent to 90 percent of the works on offer selling. A handful of records were set for artists, including Francesco Vezzoli, Dana Schutz and Iraqi artist Ahmed Alsoudani. But two works that set auction records at the Philips de Pury sale looked familiar: They were both on view this spring in the show “Abstract America: New Painting from the U.S.” at the gallery of ad-mogul Charles Saatchi, business partner of Phillips.

The two Saatchi works were Sterling Ruby ‘s SP58–almost fresh from his easel with a 2008 dateline, it soared over its estimate to just crack $300,000–and Aaron Young’s Greeting Card 10s, executed in 2007 at the Park Avenue Armory, at an Art Production Fund event where motorcycle riders burnt a pattern into plywood on the floor. It brought $190,000, at the higher end of expectations. 

Mr. Saatchi is an avid collector notorious for flipping works, often at considerable profit, although usually he holds the art a bit longer. But one London auction insider said to expect more sales from Mr. Saatchi, both at Phillips and elsewhere. Last month, Mr. Saatchi’s plans to open a London Museum of Contemporary Art starring his collection ran aground.

Among other notable sales in London, a Lucien Freud portrait of model (and ex-wife of Mick Jagger) Jerry Hall sold well at $963,000, and the chilly markets of Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami both heated up with sales. Left marooned on the auction block: Terence Koh. Saatchi Art Sets Records