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Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale Nets $413 Million

The New York evening auctions concluded on Thursday night with Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale, achieving a total of $413 million, comfortably within its pre-sale estimate range of $342 million to $497 million.

Highlights of the Auction

The brisk, 64-lot sale featured notable pieces by renowned artists, including a David Hockney painting once owned by television producer Norman Lear, which fetched $28.6 million, and a Vincent van Gogh work that sold for $33.2 million.

Market Insights

Despite a lineup featuring established artists like Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Claude Monet, and Andy Warhol, some art advisers felt the sale lacked cohesion. Only one of the guaranteed lots was backed by the house, indicating a mixed sentiment among collectors.

Record-Breaking Sales

Several records were set during the auction, including André Kertész’s photograph Satiric Dancer and Alexander Archipenko’s sculpture Woman Combing Her Hair. These successes underscored the growing prominence of early 20th-century photography and sculpture in premier auctions.

Mixed Results

While some lots soared, others faltered. Works by Isamu Noguchi, Richard Diebenkorn, and Joan Mitchell failed to find buyers initially. However, Joseph Cornell’s Untitled (Medici Prince Variant) was eventually sold post-auction, highlighting the unpredictability of the market.

Key Bidding Moments

Bidding for Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Poppy started vigorously, achieving the low estimate within seconds. In contrast, Hockney’s A Lawn Being Sprinkled and van Gogh’s Coin de Jardin avec papillons saw lukewarm interest despite their high valuations.

David Hockney, A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967)
David Hockney, A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967) | courtesy: Christies

Market Analysis

Art advisers and experts commented on the lack of urgency among bidders, attributing it to the absence of standout masterpieces and a defensive posture adopted by auction houses. However, bargains were still found, such as Picasso’s Femme au chapeau assise, reflecting a dynamic market seeking value amidst uncertainty.

Pablo Picasso, Femme au chapeau assise (1971)| Courtesy: COURTESY CHRISTIE’S


The auction’s outcome reflects the nuanced state of the art market, characterised by both record-setting sales and subdued bidding. While economic uncertainties persist, the appetite for art remains, albeit with a discerning eye for value and quality.

Feature Image: Christie’s Global Head of Private Sales, Adrien Meyer, sells the top lot of the evening, Andy Warhol’s Flowers, 1964

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