Being Boetti

Sarah Thornton’s coverage of the recent Contemporary art sales in the Economist included this discussion of Alighiero Boetti’s work which has been on a multi-year rise in value.

An early work by Alighiero Boetti, an Italian dreamer, made a world-record price this week. While Sotheby’s sold one of the artist’s embroidered maps of the world for £349,000 and an untitled white-on-white tapestry for £469,000, Christie’s sold “Rosso Gilera 60 1232 Rosso Guzzi 60 1305”, a pair of red paintings (or industrial-paint-on-metal works) inspired by the colour of a couple of Italian motorcycle brands, to Daniella Luxembourg, a dealer with a stellar collection of Italian art, for £713,000. This was substantially higher than the £350,000 high estimate. An “Arte Povera” artist with a prescient obsession with globalism, Boetti worked out of a hotel in Kabul in the mid-1970s, then died of a brain tumour in 1994. “Boetti is a real poet, a delirious Italian, who continues to be an important influence on younger artists,” said Ludovica Barbieri, a Milano dealer.

According to, only one other Boetti work of the seven that we sold in the combined day and evening sales was able to exceed its estimate range. That untitled work was bought for £390k at the hammer against a £290-350k estimate range. It was the second highest value Boetti in the sale cycle and auctioned in Sotheby’s Evening sale.

It would appear that the higher value Boettis are the works that continue to excite the market.

Alighiero Boetti Auction Archive (