Sotheby’s Sets New Artists Records at Its $343.6M Contemporary Evening Sale

Oliver Barker coaxed bidders with charm at Sotheby's November 11 Contemporary Art Evening Sale. (Photo courtesy Sotheby's)

Oliver Barker coaxed bidders with charm at Sotheby’s November 11 Contemporary Art Evening Sale. (Photo courtesy Sotheby’s)

Tuesday evening’s Contemporary Art Evening sale at Sotheby’s saw a wide range of highs and lows, but despite the mixed sales results it was 85 percent sold by lot and topped out at $343.6 million. It brings the week’s Contemporary Art total to $460.2 million when combined with the totals from Monday’s sale of the Bunny Mellon collection.

Another notable collection featured in last night’s sale: the Schlumberger collection. Mark Rothko’s No.1 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) (1953)—the big-ticket item of the evening—fetched $44.9 million, and Jean Dubuffet’s Cité Fantoche (1963) sold for $7.4 million, and set a new auction record for the artist.

Other significant records were set with the sale of Jasper Johns’ Flag (1983), a highly anticipated lot that didn’t disappoint when it went for $36 million, well over its estimate of $15-$20 million. And, as promised, we kept a close eye on Robert Ryman’s all-white Untitled 1961 painting. It met its bold estimate of $15-$20 million when the hammer came down and it sold for $15 million, doubling the artist’s previous record.

But the night wasn’t without upsets. Even though Jeff Koons touts Whitney star power, it didn’t show through on the auction block. Buyers passed over Moon (Yelllow) (1995-200) at $11.5 million, and the room erupted in audible rumbles. His Bear and Policeman (1988) did sell for $8 million and landed in the top ten lots.

Following the sale at the press conference, a spokesperson for Sotheby’s highlighted the evening’s Warhol sales by saying “it was a great night for Warhol’s women.” Liz #3 (Early Colored Liz) (1963) sold for $31.5 million, and Brigitte Bardot (1974) totaled $11.6 million, both placing in the top ten lots. But despite paintings of women selling well, the few female artists who had work in the sale didn’t hit spectacular numbers. Louise Bourgeois’ Spider I totaled at $7.1 million—her previous record still stands at $10.7 million for different spider sold at Christie’s in 2011.

Here are some highlights of our live tweeting from last night’s sale, and make sure to follow along with us again tonight at Christie’s @ObserverArts on Twitter:

  Sotheby’s Sets New Artists Records at Its $343.6M Contemporary Evening Sale