Now we know what the new middle market looks like. Christie’s “If I Live, I’ll See You Tuesday” sale had very strong sales buy mostly right on the estimates. Only one work failed to find a buyer and none of the works were big enough to send strong market signals in the regular evening sale. But the directional information on many younger artists, including Wade Guyton, gave Christie’s something that used to belong to Phillips, bragging rights on first auction sales.
Katya Kazakina gets out early with this quote from Christie’s CEO Steve Murphy:
“We are not in a bubble,” Murphy said. “The number of people around the world interested in acquiring art at all levels is exploding. There is a boom in clients in the 40- to 50-year-old age group.”
Gallerist’s Dan Duray paid attention to who was doing the bidding:
Most in attendance after the sale were talking about the impressive sums for two young artists having their first auction outings, Mr. Israel and Mr. Eisner. Mr. Israel saw bidding from the Nahmad family’s youngest member, Joe, and art adviser Alex Marshall, who was the underbidder, losing to a phone bidder who paid $1 million with premium for the work. (Mr. Eisner’s work, which like Mr. Israel’s was a painting reminiscent of a moody sky, went for $137,000 with premium.)
Brian Boucher gathered these comments for Art in America:
“The solidity was what shocked me,” said Miami collector Don Rubell after the auction. “There were no ups and downs.”
“It was very energetic, very strong, and very selective,” New York dealer Dominique Lévy told A.i.A. “The only lot that got carried away was a masterpiece—the Kippenberger. Bids were very well thought through.”
“The estimates were not low,” said New York dealer Phillippe Ségalot. Referring to an atmosphere that was lively but not overly exuberant, he said, “The action was not crazy, because the estimates were already there.”
Amid the general tenor of celebration, Levin sounded a cautionary note.
“That was a bull market sale,” Levin told A.i.A. “But if you run with the bulls, when the market changes direction, you’re going to get rather badly gored.”
Carol Vogel did a particularly good job of identifying sellers and buyers:
“Nurse of Greenmeadow,” one of Mr. Prince’s nurse paintings based on a pulp romance novel, sold to another telephone bidder for $8.5 million, above its low $7 million estimate. François Pinault, Christie’s owner and a celebrated collector, was said by dealers familiar with his collection to be the seller of Koons’s “Aqualung,” a bronze cast of the scuba device, from 1985. Estimated to bring $9 million to $12 million, the Nahmad Gallery bought it for $11.6 million. The Nahmads tried to buy another work by Mr. Koons, a 1985 sculpture of two orange basketballs floating in a tank, but they lost to a telephone bidder who paid $6.9 million. […]
Peter Doig’s “Road House,” a 1991 landscape estimated to sell for $9.5 million to $11.5 million, brought $11.9 million. It was bought by identical female twins who declined to identify themselves but said they were buying it for family in Asia. The painting was said to have been sold by Noam Gottesman, the hedge fund manager.
Judd Tully searched for wisdom among the dealers and collectors:
As the crowd streamed out of Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters for a post happy hour dinner, storied octogenarian Chicago art collector Stefan Edlis was asked if there were any lessons learned from the brief evening sale.
“Buy low,” said Edlis, “sell high.” […]
“What happens,” questioned New York dealer Emmanuel Didonna as he joined the happy crowd of attendees waiting for limos and Uber cars immediately after the sale, “if none of this is guaranteed? That’s another question.” […]
After the brief evening, representing half of what Christie’s will be offering on Tuesday, market-making dealer Alberto Mugrabi posited, “Richard Prince is the most important living artist in America.”