SOTHEBY’S – Monet, Basquiat and Twombly Headline a $702 Million Week of Auctions


Monet, Basquiat and Twombly Headline a $702 Million Week of Auctions

BY SOTHEBY’S | MAY 12, 2021

An epic week of auctions that brought together a stellar array of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art was led by a three-auction evening which realized a total $596.8 million. Conducted by Sotheby’s auctioneer Oliver Barker, the live-streamed event featured in-room bidders in New York, telephone bidders in London, Hong Kong and New York, and online bidders from around the world, who all vied for remarkable artworks by Monet, Picasso, Warhol and Basquiat, and many other exceptional artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Warhol, Still, Richter and Diebenkorn Lead the Marion Collection

Starting off the evening was American Visionary: The Collection of Mrs. John L. Marion, an auction of extraordinary works from the collection of legendary philanthropist and arts patron Mrs. John L. Marion. Totalling $157.2 million, the sale featured works representing the height of achievement in the American Abstract Expressionist and Pop art movements. Among the highlights was Richard Diebenkorn’s luminous Ocean Park #40, 1971, which sold for $27,265,500 – setting a new auction record for the California artist. New auction records were also reached for a work by Kenneth Noland, whose 1958 painting Rocker sold for $4,255,000, and Larry Rivers’s Africa I, 1961–62, which achieved $2,077,000. Other exciting moments from the auction were the sale of Clyfford Still’s PH-125 (1948-No. 1), 1948, which achieved $30,712,500 and Andy Warhol’s larger-than-life Elvis 2 Times, 1963, which sold for $37,032,000.

Watch Bidding Battle for Diebenkorn

Watch Bidding Battle for Diebenkorn

100% Sold Contemporary Art Auction Brings $218.3 Million

Demand for Contemporary luminaries continued in the white glove Contemporary Art Evening Auction, propelled by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cy Twombly, bringing a total $218.3 million. The auction included works from the Collection of Morris and Rita Pynoos, the Collection of Kay Unger and Hidden Harmony: An Exquisite Private Collection, among others.

Top lots from the evening included Basquiat’s Versus Medici, 1982, which achieved $50,820,000 and Twombly’s Untitled (Rome), 1970, which sold for $41,628,000.

A lively bidding battle of nearly seven minutes took place for Robert Colescott’s George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, 1975. The work achieved $15,201,000, more than 16 times Colescott’s previous auction record of $912,500.

Watch Bidding Battle for Banksy

Watch Bidding Battle for Banksy

Banksy’s Love is in the Air sparked another bidding face-off. After nearly 14 minutes, the 2004 painting – a quintessential example from the artist’s oeuvre – achieved $12,903,000. In a world first for a fine auction house, bidders on the work had the option of making their payment in cryptocurrency.

Auction records were set for Elizabeth Peyton, Raymond Pettibon and Jeff Koons (whose Quad Elvis sold for $9.5 million, setting a record for a painting by the artist).

Monet Steals the Show with $70.4 million Water Lilies

Capping the trio of marquee auctions and driven by a wonderful example of Claude Monet’s waterlilies, the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale brought a total $221.3 million.

Le Bassin aux nymphéas, an exquisite example of Monet’s most iconic series, achieved $70,353,000 following a heated bidding battle lasting nearly five minutes between five different bidders. The result makes the painting among the top five most expensive works by the artist to be sold at auction.

Watch Bidding Battle for Monet

Watch Bidding Battle for Monet

Other star lots included Pablo Picasso’s striking portrait of Françoise Gilot, entitled Femme assise en costume vert ($20,946,000); Paul Cézanne’s poignant Nature morte: pommes et poires ($19,969,350); and a painting from Amedeo Modigliani’s mature period,Jeune fille assise, les cheveux dénoués (Jeune fille en bleu) ($16,350,000).

Leonor Fini’s arresting Autoportrait au scorpion, the only self-portrait the artist chose not to sell in her lifetime, set a new auction record for the artist at $2,319,000.