Last night’s £54m, 96% sell-through London sale of Contemporary art was a singular event but it gave more fuel to the idea that the art market has surprising strength. Scott Reyburn at Bloomberg explains why the sale was no ordinary market measure:
“Lenz was all about provenance,” said Heinrich zu Hohenlohe, director of the Berlin branch of the dealership Dickinson. “This was better than buying from the artists themselves. The collection is famous for its quality and nobody thought it would come up for sale. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. These artists were due for revaluation.” Victor Vasarely (565,250 pounds), Heinz Mack (205,250 pounds), Gunther Uecker (825,250 pounds) and Jan Schoonhoven (780,450 pounds) were among 17 Lenz artists to achieve auction records.
The Master, Judd Tully, adds his own details on the sale:
- The Zero Group’s top performer was Yves Klein’s flame-thrower-burned painting F 88, from 1961 (est. £2.8-3.5 million), which sold to a German-speaking couple in the salesroom for £3,289,250 ($5,155,899). The same-paddle waving duo snagged another Klein, as well as works by Lucio Fontana and Andy Warhol.
- The strongest price, relative to estimate and almost any other indicator, was the Frank Auerbach charcoal and chalk drawing, Head of Leon Kossoff from 1956 (est. £60-80,000), that sold to London dealer Offer Waterson for a whopping £1,038,050 ($1,627,143).
Though Scott Reyburn does offer this piece of auction house spin that is no less accurate for being good marketing: “The gap between Auerbach and Freud and Bacon is closing,” said Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s senior international specialist. “It was an extraordinarily rare drawing.”
De Kooning, Klein Catch Fire at Sotheby’s (ArtInfo.com)