The Observer’s report on last night’s sale at Sotheby’s underscores an interesting development. Two different buyers at last night’s sales acquired multiple abstract works. It hasn’t been uncommon to see buyers take two or three works in a sale. But last night there was a $90m spree:
The work, 1949-A-No.1 (1949), eventually went to Ms. Dennison’s phone bidder, and set a new record for the artist at $61.7 million. The same bidder appeared to buy another Still, two lots later, which sold for $19.7 million. The previous record for a Clyfford Still at auction was the $21.3 million achieved in November 2006, at Christie’s New York, for another 1940s picture, 1947-R-No. 1 (1947).
Another record was set, for Joan Mitchell, with a brightly colored untitled painting from circa 1960, at $9.3 million. The private collector selling it bought it at Christie’s New York, in May 2007, for $3.2 million. The record-breaking Mitchell sold to the same bidder who bought the two Clyfford Stills mentioned above.
And another bought several Richters, according to The Master, Judd Tully:
A number of art-hunters at Sotheby’s seemed intent on acquiring a stockpile of their own masterpieces, and one anonymous telephone bidder (known only as paddle number L0086) snared three of eight Gerhard Richters offered by a private collector couple identified in the catalogue and in the auction house’s effective promotion materials as “Abstraction-Figuration: A Private Collection.”
That deep-pocketed player outgunned intense competition to buy Richter’s “Abstraktes Bild (769-2)” from 1992 for $14,082,500 (est. $5.5-7.5 million); “Gudrun,” another de Kooning-esque abstraction from 1987, which made $18,002,500 (est. $5.5-7.5 million); and “Mohre” from 1984 that realized $6,242,500.