Once again, the Master, Judd Tully, leads the reporting on London’s art sales with these pocket histories from Christie’s sale:
- Gagosian also snagged the still-controversial Maurizio Cattelan wax and clothes sculpture of two life-size, upside-down, and fully-uniformed New York City policemen, Frank and Jamie (dated 2002 and estimated to earn £500-700,000, or $747,900–1.05 million), which made £1,026,850 ($1,544,382). The work last sold at Christie’s London, in June 2006, when it made £400,000 ($740,740). It drew intense criticism and even statements of outrage when it was first shown at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York in April 2002 when the smoky specter and memory of 9/11 was still palpable in the city. “I think people laid off of it,” said Gagosian, referring to the relatively modest price of the work compared with other major Cattelans. “It’s a substantial piece, and it’s worth something,” he said.
- Alexander Calder’s witty hanging mobile, the 1975 Two Fish Tails, selling to London dealer Ezra Nahmad for £1,441,250 ($2,167,640) on a £1.2-1.8 million ($1.79–2.69 million) estimate. It last sold at auction in June 1993, at Christie’s London, for £95,000 ($140,366).
Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn got these explanations for the good and the bad of the sale:
- “The quality was higher,” Anthony McNerney, managing director of the London-based gallery Ben Brown Fine Arts, said in an interview. “There was a broader range of material, the reserves were lower and Christie’s worked hard to get buyers.”
- The one major disappointment was the 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat canvas, “Untitled,” featuring a bespectacled grinning face, which failed against a low forecast of 2.5 million pounds. The estimate was too ambitious and too many Basquiats had recently come on the market to capitalize on the current exhibition on the artist at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, said dealers.