Art moguls shook off recession fears and helped Sotheby’s (BID) rebound strongly from its disastrous showing last week by ponying up for contemporary works including $23.6 million for former Wall Street commodities broker Jeff Koons’ “Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold).” In contrast to last week, when 20 of 79 lots went without bidders, most went within or slightly above estimates.
Robotic Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer even added a lighthearted moment to the proceedings. “The dollar is weak,” he chided a hesitant bidder for Richard Prince’s “Untitled (Cowboy).” The gavel came down at $3.1 million, more than a million above the high estimate.
The 71 lots were auctioned off without much drama–in contrast to last week’s auction when van Gogh’s “Wheat Fields” went unsold, causing BID shares to crater 28% the following day.
Last night, Sotheby’s kept up the momentum set at Christie’s the night before: 16 record prices for Koons, Gerhard Richter and Lucian Freud. The highlight of the bidding were two pieces by Francis Bacon, a tiny self portrait and the magnificent “Second Version of Study for Bullfight No. 1.” rumour on the bidding floor was that Sotheby’s had guaranteed the pair for $60 million. They went for $29.5 million and $41 million, respectively, not including commissions.
Other highlights: Two Warhols, the tiny “Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot)” ($7.5 million) and “Self Portrait (Green Camouflage)” ($11 million), sold in the mid range of estimates. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled (Electric Chair)” sold for $10.5 million, above the $10 million high estimate, but a second, less-impressive untitled piece sold for $6.9 million, below the $7 million low estimate.
Earlier: Night at the Art Market Crash (BID)