After years of pushing on the Frank Auerbach market both in London and New York, the British artist seems to be finally gaining some traction. In 2007 strong record prices were achieved culminating in his top price for Head of Helen Gillespie that made £1.945m a shade above the previous record.
Since then, Auerbach has not been able to break the $4m mark. That doesn’t mean his market has been without action. This week Sotheby’s set a record price for Auerbach–and broke the £2m barrier–with Mornington Crescent–Summer Morning which sold for £2.28m ($3.4m.)
Bonham’s, which often flies under the radar during the marquee sales, got in on the action with Head of E.O.W. III which sold nicely above the £600k high estimate for £860,000. Here’s Bonham’s on the sale:
An important painting by the British painter Frank Auerbach of his long-term lover, Estella Olive West, entitled Head of E.O.W. III, 1961, sold yesterday (30 June) for a remarkable £860,000 at Bonhams, New Bond Street, as part of its 20th Century British Art sale. The sale fetched an impressive £2.8 million in total.
The painting, which has never appeared at auction before, had been expected to fetch £400,000 – 600,000.
Estella, a widowed amateur actress, was Auerbach’s lover for 23 years, and one of his most regular models, referred to as E.O.W. in the titles of his works. It was with Estella that he started the process of working and reworking paintings, which sometimes took hundreds of sittings to complete.