The best 2011 auction results!



Every fortnight Artprice posts a new or updated ranking in its Alternate-Friday Top Series. The topic of today’s TOP article is the 10 best auction results in 2011.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s turnover has been growing steadily since 2009, thanks to prestige sales in London: evening auctions of impressionist and modern work generated £83.7m in February 2009, £188.2m in February 2010 and £196.5m in February 2011. Sales of contemporary and post-war work totaled £22.3m in February 2009, £79.4m in February 2010 and £91.2m in February 2011.

Top 10 : the 10 best auction results in 2011

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Pablo PICASSO $36 274 500 La lecture (1932) 02/08/11 (Sotheby’s London)
2 Francis BACON $32 957 850 Three studies for portrait of Lucian Freud 02/10/11 (Sotheby’s London)
3 Salvador DALI $19 292 400 Portrait de Paul Eluard (1929) 02/10/11 (Sotheby’s London)
4 Andy WARHOL $15 440 640 Self-Portrait (1967) 02/16/11 (Christie’s London)
5 TIZIANO VECELLIO $15 000 000 A Sacra Conversazione… 01/27/11 (Sotheby’s NY)
6 Pierre BONNARD $10 318 080 Terrasse à Vernon (1923) 02/09/11 (Christie’s London)
7 Gerhard RICHTER $10 257 920 Abstraktes Bild (1990) 02/15/11 (Sotheby’s London)
8 André DERAIN $8 383 440 Bateaux à Collioure (1905) 02/09/11 (Christie’s London)
9 Edgar DEGAS $7 738 560 Danseuses jupes jaunes(c.1896) 02/09/11 (Christie’s London)
10 Pablo PICASSO $6 932 460 Sur l’impériale traversant la Seine (1901) 02/09/11 (Christie’s London)

Pablo PICASSO once again has pride of place with La Lecture, a 65.5 x 51 cm canvas portraying his young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. Given great media coverage, the painting was sold by Sotheby’s for a record £22.5m ($36.2m) on February 8. The following day Picasso featured in a sale by rival Christie’s, where Sur l’impériale traversant la Seine was knocked down for $6.9m (lowest in our ranking).

Other stars of the February 9 sale have helped to boost Christie’s sales figures. Pierre BONNARD’s Terrasse à Vernon, one of his most accomplished works, went for £6.4m ($10.3m), a new record for the artist. André DERAIN’s fauve piece Bateaux à Collioure went for $5.2m, an impressive increase on the $1.1m paid for it in 1995 (Kohn, Paris). Lastly, there was very lively bidding for Danseuses jupes jaunes by Edgar DEGAS. At an estimated price of £3-5m, it was finally knocked down for £4.8m ($7.7m).

The two leading auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s both sold major works by Salvador DALI, setting successive world records. On February 9 Christie’s went in first, Etude pour Le miel est plus doux que le sang for £3.6m ($5.8m). This small canvas, painted between 1926 and 1927 and measuring 37.7 x 46.1 cm, is a transitional work, portraying the key elements of Dali’s paranoid-critical vocabulary. This work overtook the previous record of $5m for Spectre du soir sur la plage, painted in 1935, which Sotheby’s sold in May 2010. The following day they snatched the record back: bids for Portrait de Paul Eluard (1929, 33 x 25 cm) soared to £12m ($19.2m), against an estimated £3.5-5m, in the Looking Closely: A Private Collection sale.

Looking Closely: A Private Collection also featured a triptych by Francis BACON, portraying his friend Lucian Freud, in Three Studies for Portrait of Lucian Freud. At an estimated price of £7-9m, bidding finally reached £20.5m ($32.9m). The results of the Looking closely: A Private Collection sale were even better for Sotheby’s than its sales of impressionist and modern art.

Andy WARHOL, one of the mainstays of contemporary art, was in fourth place with his bright Self-Portrait, which went for £9.6m ($15.4m) at Christie’s (est. £3-5m). Another success in the sale of post-war and contemporary work was Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard RICHTER. Guaranteed by Sotheby’s, the work fetched £6.4m ($10.2m), taking the seventh spot in the ranking.

On January 21, 2011, a new record of $15m (£9.4m) was set by Sotheby’s, NewYork for a work by the Venetian artist TIZIANO VECELLIO, usually known as Titian. The painting in question, Conversation Sacrée, broke the 20-year old record set by his Venus et Adonis (£6.9m, at Christie’s in London).

Although sales were less spectacular than in February 2010, figures for the first months of 2011 were better overall. Over 49 lots have been sold for more than a million pounds (as against 29 in February 2010), while turnover is £8.2m up on 2010 (£196.5m in 2011).