It’s become an all-too-common experience that major sales will contain one pair of very similar works by the same artist at opposing auction houses. This season, it’s Sean Scully’s turn for the twinned effect. Sotheby’s is selling Scully’s Wall of Light Day from 2003 that is estimated at between $600 and $800,000.
Coming from a series of works that were inspired by the painter’s trip to the Yucatan in the 1980s, the Wall of Light series used watercolors that the artist created at the time as source material for these abstract works.
The $600,000 estimate is no accident. Although a Scully was sold last year in London for $1.3m at the height of the boom in July, no one would expect the same prices to apply. The price comes from the similar work on offer at Christie’s. There Wall of Light Temozon is on offer with a $600-800,000 estimate. Christie’s chose to make the painting the star of its afternoon sale instead of placing it in the more prestigious evening sale.
That may be because the same painting changed hands at Sotheby’s June 2005 Evening sale in London for $689,000. There’s no shame in the work having returned to a 2005 price level. The rest of the art market, especially the Contemporary market, is still trying to claw its way back to that level.