The Master, Judd Tully, surveys the Christie’s sale with a cold eye. The numbers were bad because two paintings made up nearly half of the low estimate. Here, Tully has an explanation for the Bacon’s weakness:
“For those of us with long memories, Bacon is an artist who has often been very thin at auction,” said London private dealer Ivor Braka shortly after the sale. “We’re not talking about Picasso here with 200 buyers.”
Tully also takes the time to detail which lots came from Christie’s inventory: the Dubuffet and the Jenny Saville.
Even blue-chip, postwar artists are being number crunched to a new reality. Jean Dubuffet’s excellent Miss Araignée from June 1950 sold to another anonymous telephone bidder for £713,250 (est. £400–600,000). The work was last offered at Christie’s London in June 2004 when the guaranteed painting failed to sell against an estimate of £1–1.5 million.
Another Christie’s-owned property, the grandly scaled and super tough Jenny Saville painting Juncture from 1994, featuring the backside of a huge nude with her face scrunched into one corner, sold for £457,250 (est. £300–400,000). The work was last seen at the firm’s debut at Maastricht’s TEFAF art fair in March 2007.
Scott Reyburn’s updated report on Bloomberg has some words from Christie’s own front-line figures:
“The markets hate uncertainty,” said Amy Cappellazzo, Christie’s deputy chairman, Americas. “Steadiness hasn’t yet been achieved.” [ . . . ]
“The Bacon was perhaps too academic for the public and was perhaps estimated too high,” said Pilar Ordovas, Christie’s European deputy chairman of contemporary art.
The Golden Rain Dries Up at Christie’s (ArtInfo)