There was a lot of talk before the sales this week that Cindy Sherman’s market would see some fireworks. Last night, that came to pass with a record sale for a work by the artist which is also a record price for a photograph as Judd Tully points out in his auction report:
Cindy Sherman‘s exquisite “Untitled #153,” [ed.-a commenter points out that the image is Untitled # 96 and Christie’s catalogue confirms] a color copier print from 1981 featuring the artist as a cashmere-clad ingénue, seductively reclining with a crumpled personal ad in one hand, sold to New York dealer Philippe Segalot for $3,890,500 (est. $1.5-2 million). The underbidder was New York dealer Per Skarstedt. The sellers had acquired the print, from an edition of ten, in 1981 when Sherman’s market was in its infancy. Another later version from 1985 sold at Phillips de Pury last November for $2,770,500, the previous high.
Remarkably, Sherman’s feminist work now also represents the most expensive photograph ever to sell at auction, topping uber-star Andreas Gursky‘s “99 Cent II” (2001), which sold for $3,346,456 at Sotheby’s London in February 2007. Christie’s had guaranteed a secret amount to the sellers, so the house profited handsomely from their risk-taking. (In fact, they either guaranteed or found anonymous third-party backers for thirteen lots in the evening.)