The Master, Judd Tully, had these wise words about last night’s star lot:
- “The Rothko was a great value,” said Chicago dealer Paul Gray, who watched the action from a ringside seat near the front of the salesroom, “but it has superb quality if that’s your brand of trophy picture. Put in the company of other $50-million-plus pictures and it belongs there.” (The fire-hued Rothko also epitomized the often hackneyed notion of ‘fresh to the market,’ since Pincus, a Philadelphia-based mensware magnate, acquired the painting from Marlborough Gallery in London back in 1967, three years after it debuted there in a 1964 solo exhibition.)
- Urs Fischer’s paraffin wax sculpture, “Untitled (Standing),” depicting art collector Peter Brant, from an edition of two plus one artist’s proof, sold to London dealer Marco Voena $1,314,500
Dan Duray got a comment and made a sharp-eyed observation:
- “It’s not only that they paid whatever it was they paid, it was that you had two or three serious underbidders on most lots,” said dealer Emmanuel Di Donna after the auction. It represented a market ticking upward. “And it’s not over,” he added, “I’m just seeing bigger and bigger demand for good objects.”
- one telephone bidder—paddle number 1748—snagged both the record-setting Pollock (a 1951 piece, for $23 million) and a late Willem de Kooning (a spare 1983 work with a few colorful shapes against a white background, for $8.5 million).
Katya Kazakina spotted these buyers:
- The first Calder to set a record, “Snow Flurry,” came from the collection of the late architect and industrial designer Eliot Noyes. It features white metal disks on thin wires, and was bought by Xin Li, Christie’s vice president and Asian business development director, who typically bids for Chinese clients.
- The last lot of the sale, Warhol’s “Reel Basquiat” (1984), was purchased by Russian real-estate tycoon Vladislav Doronin, chairman of Moscow-based Capital Group, seated next to Warhol collector Peter Brant. The work fetched $3.3 million, above its high estimate.
Carol Vogel has this art advisor comment:
- “The air is no longer thin at the top,” remarked Allan Schwartzman, a private New York dealer.
Kelly Crow in the Wall Street Journal:
- Iowa collector John Pappajohn shook his head in awe as he left the sale room: “There aren’t any bargains anymore,” he said.
Record Sales for a Rothko and Other Art at Christie’s (New York Times)
Record Rothko Headlines at Christie’s (Wall Street Journal)