Colin Gleadell reports that there’s a lot of in Sotheby’s Contemporary art sale in London this February of Ai Weiwei’s hand-painted sunflower seeds that were part of the Tate Modern exhibition where the artist filled the Turbine Hall with porcelain sunflower seeds made in China. Since that time, Ai’s Danish Gallery has offered an unspecified amount of the seeds for €300,000. There was no word on a sale.
That was in November. Now Gleadell reports:
a 100-kilogram pile of seeds by Ai Weiwei (below) is to be offered with an estimate of £80,000 to £120,000. Apparently, the seeds are valued by weight, so, if it sells at the mid estimate, that would make the seeds worth £1,000 pounds a kilogram, and the Tate installation a whopping £150 million.
The question is who has consigned the lot to Sotheby’s? Sotheby’s lists a provenance that begins with the Danish Gallery selling the seeds in November. But the auction estimate is far below the gallery’s asking price (unless the quantities were different) suggesting that the consignor is taking a great risk in offering the lot. Sotheby’s has made it the first lot in the sale. By auction convention, that suggests they expect lots of interest and bidding that could drive the price well beyond the estimate range.
Market News: First Ai Weiwei Seeds on the Market (Telegraph)