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Sotheby's Contemporary Art Sales This Week in London Total $144 Million

Evening Sale Achieves 91% Sell-Through Rate


- Intimate Portrait from 1956 Treasured in the sitter's collection for over 60 years


LONDON, March 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Sotheby's (BID) spring sale series of Contemporary Art achieved a total of $144 million, well above the low estimate of $117 million.  The two-day series was led by the Evening Sale, which achieved a total of $122 million with an impressive sell through rate of 90.9%. 


Alex Branczik, Sotheby's European Head of Contemporary Art, commented, "These results are testament to the quality and diversity of the offering in yesterday's evening sale, much of which hailed from long-established collections. Freud's portrait was the undeniable jewel of the evening, exuding quality from every inch of the canvas.  Freud's masterful treatment of his subject has not only captured the attention of the onlooker, it has also inspired artists such as Jenny Saville, whose monumental nude Juncture achieved £5.6 million yesterday, crowning an opening line-up of seven of female artists. Indeed, this auction included more works by female artists than ever before, reflecting the important, and ongoing, step towards the reappraisal of their work.  Whether it be Basquiat, Dubuffet, German Art, sculpture or works by artists rarely seen at auction before, in this sale, there really was something for everyone."

Sotheby's European Chairman and auctioneer Oliver Barker fields bids for Lucian Freud's jewel-like portrait, which led Sotheby's two-day sale series of Contemporary Art in London that achieved an overall total of $144 million.

Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 5 March 2019

Yesterday's Contemporary Art Evening Auction totaled $122,835,924, well within the pre-sale estimate of $99.5/137.8 million.  Leading the sale was Jean-Michel Basquiat's Apex (1986), which achieved $10.8 million – when the painting last appeared at auction in 1988, it sold for a mere  $28,190.  Three further works on paper by the artist exceeded their high estimates and achieved a combined total of $3.8 million.

A highlight of the evening, Lucian Freud's exquisite Head of a Boy (1956) sold for $7.6 million in its auction debut.  Executed when Freud was just 34 years of age, works from the 1950s are incredibly rare to come to auction – only 10 examples have ever appeared at auction.

A further highlight was Jenny Saville's towering three-metre Juncture (1994), which achieved $7.5 million,  more than a 1000% increase on the £457,250 the painting achieved in its last appearance at auction in 2009. Altogether 13 works by female artists were offered in last night's sale, with over half exceeding their pre-sale high estimate. New artist records were set for Turner Prize nominee Rebecca Warren, and Nigerian artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, who also made her auction debut.

Contemporary Art Day Sale, 6 March 2019

Today's Contemporary Art Day Sale totaled $21,175,380, within the pre-sale estimate of $18.3/25.9 million.

The sale was led by Keith Haring's electric Untitled from 1983, which was snapped up for an above estimate $1,281,832 (est. £400,000-600,000).  Boldly rendered in the artist's universal visual language, the work embodies and celebrates a vivacious moment of converging social stratospheres in the vibrant zeitgeist of New York in the early eighties – an epitome of Haring's unique ability to convey feeling and emotion through forms distilled to their most basic, essential components.

This week's sales follow stellar results for our Contemporary Curated sale in New York last week, which achieved $36.8 million – the highest ever total for the Sotheby's series.  Sotheby's next sales of Contemporary Art will be held in Hong Kong on March 31st and April 1st.

About Sotheby's
Sotheby's has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby's became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby's presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby's BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Sotheby's offers collectors the resources of Sotheby's Financial Services, the world's only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection, artist, estate & foundation advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby's presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby's Global Fine Art Division, and three retail businesses: Sotheby's Wine, Sotheby's Diamonds, and Sotheby's Home, the online marketplace for interior design. Sotheby's has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID).

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London | +44 207 293 6000 | Mitzi Mina | Mitzi.Mina@Sothebys.com | Rosamund Chester | Rosamund.Chester@Sothebys.com


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