Sotheby’s orderly, no-excitement London Evening sale of Contemporary art that made £69.3m last night hasn’t won any awards for drama, according to The Master, Judd Tully:
- “It was a pretty patchy and boring evening,” said Paris dealer Thaddaeus Ropac , who underbid Andy Warhol’s gruesome “Ambulance Disaster” screen print on paper from 1963, which ultimately made £409,250 ($637,898) (est.£300-500,000).
Tully blames the bad ratings on the prevalence of third-party guarantees in the sale, a view backed up by Sotheby’s own staff:
- “When irrevocable bids come into play,” theorized Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s senior international specialist, “sometimes the estimates are rather aggressive and you’re managing the vendor’s [seller’s] heightened expectations. It takes out the auction magic in a way.”
Maybe that’s why it took a former owner to put some life back into the sale:
- In one of the few contested shootouts for property coming in without guarantees, Jean Dubuffet’s lively “Cherubin Oisistiti,” a gouache on paper from 1962, attracted at least four bidders and ultimately sold to Alfred Taubman, the former chairman and major stockholder of Sotheby’s, for £993,250 ($1,548,179) (est. £300-400,000).
Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn offered some background to the humdrum happenings:
- This June sale also included a ghostly “Head” by Bacon, dating from about 1949, which sold to a single telephone bid of 993,250 pounds. The painting had been offered on consignment by the London-based dealer Dickinson for $4 million at the Pavilion of Art and Design London fair in 2010.
The New York Times’s Carol Vogel offers the best perspective on the sales through the history of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Warrior which has changed hands a number of times in the last decade:
- While $8.7 million might not have been as much as some would have predicted for “Warrior,” it was more impressive than the painting’s past performances at Sotheby’s. In 2005 it fetched $1.8 million there; in 2007, $5.6 million.
Sotheby’s Contemporary Sale Makes $108 Million (New York Times)