Contemporary art market: Christie’s beats the record for an art auction with USD 133.7 million



On 12 May 2005, Christie’s set a new record for a contemporary art auction, generating USD 31.7 million more than the existing record of USD 102.7 million also set by Christie’s last year.
It only took 65 lots to reach USD 133.7 million. As spectacular, 17 records were beaten during this evening session alone. The record-breakers include notably Franz Kline, Edward Hopper, James Rosenquist, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince and Peter Doig.

The auction particularly owes its success to the fabulous response from collectors to the major postwar works on offer. The most expensive lot was Edward Hopper’s painting Chair Car (1965) which fetched USD 14 million (including fees). Next came Sail Cloth (1964) by Williem de Kooning which sold for USD 13.1 million and a piece by Mark Rothko dating from 1964 which went for USD 10.1 million.

However, some works by the new generation of artists did not receive the same expected applause. The auction recorded 11 successive no-sales including works by Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Maurizio Cattelan. Also Ostrich and Frank and Jamie, two major pieces by Maurizio Cattelan were bought in, whereas his work depicting the pope struck by a meteor, “Nona Ora”, sold for USD 2.7 million in November.

By comparison, the previous day, Sotheby’s generated only USD 68 million at its contemporary art sale. The auction’s star lot was Andy Warhol’s Liz that was knocked down at USD 12.6 million (including fees). Thirteen of the 73 lots on offer were bought in and some pieces sold below their estimates. Of particular note, Chuck Close’s John, one of the sale’s major lots estimated at USD 5-7 million, found a buyer at only USD 4.8 million.Nonetheless, five artists set personal records at the 11 May evening auction, namely , Mauricio ESCOBAR, , Robert GOBER, Andreas GURSKY, Kara WALKER and Red GROOMS