NY auction houses toast staggering billion dollar week

Published May 18, 2013
A painting on display during a preview of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art sales in New York. —Photo by AF
A painting on display during a preview of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art sales in New York. —Photo by AF

NEW YORK: Two of New York’s leading auction houses combined for the art world’s richest sales week ever, with works going under the hammer for a breathtaking total of more than one billion dollars.

Christie’s reaped in more than $638 million dollars at its blockbuster contemporary art auction on Wednesday.

Its staggering haul included a record $58.4 million for a Jackson Pollock drip painting, which shattered all previous records for the highest price for any work at an art auction.

“We are thrilled to announce an unprecedented overall total of $638.6 million for this week’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sale series,” said Brett Gorvy, an official at Christie’s.

Sotheby’s, meanwhile, had stellar overall sales of $377.4 million, including the sale of the work “Domplatz, Mailand” (Cathedral Square, Milan) by German painter Gerhard Richter for $37.1 million — a record for a living artist.

The other sensation for Sotheby’s was a work by US painter Barnet Newman, one of the leading figures of abstract expressionism, whose “Onement VI” fetched $43.84 million — the most ever for one of his paintings.

Gorvy said the record prices “reflect a new era in the art market, wherein seasoned collectors and new bidders compete at the highest level within a global market.”

Pollock’s “Number 19, 1948,” executed in his iconic drip-paint style with a shimmering mixture of silver, black, white, red and green, had been expected to sell for between $25 million and $35 million.

But it shot up to set a new auction high for the artist.

The previous top auction price for a Pollock had been $40.4 million last year, although his paintings are said to have sold for far more in unconfirmed private deals.

Meanwhile one-time graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat also set a record, sailing past Christie’s $25 million to $35 million pre-sale estimate to $48.8 million.

It was the highest auction price ever for the young artist, who died in 1988 of a heroin overdose in New York, aged just 27.

Opinion

Editorial

First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...
Afghan puzzle
Updated 28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

Unless these elements are neutralised, it will not be possible to have the upper hand over terrorist groups.
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

Mobs turn into executioners due to the authorities’ helplessness before these elements.
Persistent scourge
Updated 29 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...