The Master, Judd Tully, offers the five outstanding auction lots of 2008. It’s a verions of his overvalued/undervalued feature and mostly covers the record-setting Bacon, Monet and Munch trio. It also looks at the Koons balloon flower and this Guston masterwork:
Sotheby’s bet that a top-rate Guston could fetch the price of a middle-of-the road Rothko failed miserably as this guaranteed lot sold for millions below its estimate. It seems the house overlooked the fact that Guston is virtually unknown in Europe, at least in comparison to the pantheon of expired Ab-Ex colleagues such as de Kooning, Pollock, and Rothko. The work set a record for the under-appreciated American artist nevertheless, easily hurdling the previous record, set at Christie’s New York in May 2005 when “The Street” from 1956 made $7,296,000. Plus, the savvy buyer got a relative bargain, and the seller, the collector and insurance magnate Donald Bryant, made a killing, given that he bought the luminous and beautifully executed 1954–55 canvas at Christie’s New York in November 1996 for a then-record $1.7 million. The work sold in the salesroom to San Francisco art adviser Mary Zlot, who is known to counsel Bay Area billionaires Charles Schwab and George Roberts.