Last night’s $691m sale in New York provoked a extreme reactions in both directions. Art critics and much of the art market press recoiled from the frenzy of buying with moralizing and peevishly irrelevant remarks about donating the money to charity. At the same time, market professionals seemed to bathe in soothing waters of what they think is a sea change.
Katya Kazakina polled a few of the folks there last night:
“It’s a new world,” said Abigail Asher, with art advisory Guggenheim Asher Associates. “It feels like a reinvention of the art market. I’m overwhelmed.” […]
“After the flat sales last week, it’s incredible to see how much energy there is in the contemporary-art market,” said art dealer David Zwirner, the underbidder for Koons’s puppy.[…]
Paris-based art adviser Loic Malle wasn’t sure. “It’s either a beginning of something or the end of something,” Malle said. […]
“People have their pockets full,” said Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, valuation specialist and president of New York-based BSJ Fine Art. “If you move it up in the sale it means you have a greater pool of potential buyers and it mitigates the risk of the guarantor.”
Judd Tully got the to the heart of the matter, the sheer traffic jam of top tier works. The lowest priced item on the top ten last night was $20m:
Sixteen lots sold for more than $10 million, and of those, eleven made over $20 million, while three exceeded $50 million. Additionally, ten artist records were set. The results smashed last November’s $412.2 million result for 67 lots sold; and when you include the hefty buyer’s premium to each of the 63 lots that sold, the average lot price comes out to $10,977,508. […]
“The Wool is off-category,” said [Christophe] van de Weghe, as he strode out of the salesroom, “and my buyer wanted the absolute best example by that artist and it is the best of the best. It’s in another league. There’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ and then everything else.” […]
As Brant left the salesroom, he ignored a reporter’s question of whether he was happy with the price, sullenly stating, “I’ll miss the piece.” […]
Ad Reinhardt’s “Abstract Painting, Red” (1953) sold to New York dealer Michael Altman for a record $2,741,00 (est. $1.4-1.8 million), and Joan Mitchell‘s guaranteed “The 14th of July” (ca. 1956), sold to Altman for $7,109,000 (est. $6-8 million). “The Mitchell was really inexpensive,” said Altman as he dashed out of the salesroom, “and is a great picture.”
Carol Vogel made this point about the top Warhol work:
Cola ,” one of only four paintings of a single Coca-Cola bottle that the artist made in 1961 and 1962. Jose Mugrabi, the New York dealer, bought the painting from S. I. Newhouse Jr. in 1986 and he was said to be selling it on Tuesday night. That painting made $57.2 million.
And Kelly Crow spotted this important sale:
Activist investor Daniel Loeb, who is also Sotheby’s largest shareholder, sat in the third row and paid $46 million for Mark Rothko’s Creamsicle-colored abstract, “No. 11 (Untitled).” The Rothko was only expected to sell for up to $35 million. After the sale, Mr. Loeb grinned but declined to elaborate on the buy.
Francis Bacon Work Sells for $142.4 Million (Wall Street Journal)