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.
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.
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