The report is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)On Tuesday evening Christie’s launched its new 21st-century sale category (1980s to now) with a 39-lot sale estimated to fetch more than $145 million. Timed an hour later than normal, it ate into America’s dining schedules and Europe’s deep sleep time. And to say that it was all about Asia would be an exaggeration, as barely 7 or 8 lots attracted bidding from Hong Kong. Still, after two hours of remote bidding and eleven record prices, the sale totaled a very healthy $210.5 million, realizing a 95 percent sell-through rate (sold prices include the buyers’ premium; estimates do not). There was no precise precedent for comparison, as previous contemporary art sales included postwar work, henceforth to be included in their 20th-century sales (starting in the 1880s). Christie’s did experiment splitting 20th century and 21st century in the late 1990s, leaving Impressionists to merge with 19th century, but it didn’t work. Now, a quarter of a century on, there is far more contemporary art to choose from. Christie’s last evening contemporary art sale in New York before the pandemic in November 2019 scored $325 million with 54 lots including postwar art; the equivalent sale in May 2019 was $441 million. The drop was to be expected after shifting the postwar material.
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