The Master, Judd Tully, has some blow-by-blow details from Sotheby’s Contemporary success last night:
- Another rare-to-market Ab Ex work, Jackson Pollock’s enamel and gesso ground on paper Number 12A, 1948: Yellow, Gray, Black (1948), ignited interest and sold to Gabriel Catone of Manhattan art advisors Ruth Catone for $8,762,500 against a $4-6 million estimate. The dynamic work on paper, once owned by avant-garde dealer Betty Parsons, last sold at auction at the same house in November 1987 for $396,000.
- auction newcomer Jon Colby, who was identified by the New York Times as chasing Silver Liz (1963) at Christie’s, had better luck tonight, snaring Joan Mitchell’s majestic abstraction Vera Cruz (1960-62) for $4,002,500 (est. $3.5-4.5 million) and Anish Kapoor’s untitled 2005 stainless-steel mirrored disc — an artist’s proof from an edition of three (est. $600-900,000) — for $1,082,500. The Miami collector prefers to stand and call out his bids, commanding lots of attention along the way. The Mitchell last sold at auction at Christie’s New York in November 1995 for $288,500.
- the penultimate lot took ages to complete as a bidding war for Jean-Michel Basquiat’s jazz-infused 1983 Untitled (Stardust) (est. $1.8-2.5 million) unfolded between Larry Gagosian and an elegantly attired woman seated across the aisle from him. Gagosian joined the fray at around the $2.9 million mark, after Jose Mugrabi dropped out, and the price climbed in $100,000 increments. Gagosian didn’t hesitate in casting his bids, simply lifting his paddle again and again, as his rival consulted with her client via cell phone and then demurely flicked her paddle in the direction of auctioneer Tobias Meyer. Surprisingly — since this was, after all, Larry Gagosian — the anonymous rival succeeded in buying the painting, freshly consigned directly from the estate of the artist, for a thundering $7,250,500.