Christie’s pulled off a rare and white 21st century art evening sale, 100% sold, and with it, injected the market with a reaffirming explosion of bullish buying.
The $ 219 million tally (with fees) strived to hit the high pre-sale expectations, at $ 151.6 to $ 230.4 million (estimates do not include buyer’s premium ).
The hammer total of $ 190 million proved to be a better indicator of cruise control performance for the evening.
Remarkably by any account, the 40 lots sold and ten artist records were set.
Christie’s newly hatched category of ’21st Century’ sales opened in May with a profit of $ 210.4 million led by Jean-Michel Basquiat In the case which grossed $ 93.1 million.
Last night, 20 of the 40 lots offered were backed by third-party guarantees and two by home-backed guarantees, ensuring the success of more than half of the registrations before the start of the sale.
The revamped Rockefeller Center main auction room resembling a TV studio got off to a good start with Xinyi Cheng’s figurative portrayal of a capped babysitter, Dear from 2017 which hit a record $ 240.00 ($ 300,000 with fees) (est. $ 30,000 to $ 40,000) and Nicolas Party’s crisp Countryside pastel on linen canvas from 2021 and donated by the artist to benefit the New York City AIDS Memorial, reached a record $ 2.7 million ($ 3.3 million with fees, estimated between 300 and 500 $ 000).
Prices moved skyward with Beeple’s kinetic video sculpture Human from 2021, billed as the artist’s first “physical work of art” and dominated by a striding figure nearly seven feet tall, outfitted in some sort of other worldly spacesuit. Also made up of four video screens, a polished aluminum metal frame, and what Christie’s described as “an endless video with a matching non-fungible dynamic token,” exploded to $ 25 million ($ 29 million with fees ) against an unprecedented estimate of around $ 15 million. It is backed by a third party warranty.
The work was acquired by tech entrepreneur Ryan Zurrer, who enthusiastically announced on Twitter that he had “secured the ONE”. Beeple responded to Zurrer’s post saying he was “incredibly honored” to be part of his collection.
In the more established and much sought after arena of painting, the jazzy and geometrically charged color of Stanley Whitney, Untitled from 1999 made $ 1 million (a record $ 1.2 million with fees) and Peter Doig is richly slaked and convincingly thoughtful flooded from 1990 with his centerpiece white canoe hit a record high of $ 34.5 million ($ 40 million with fees) against an unprecedented estimate of over $ 35 million.
It last sold at Christie’s New York in May 2015 for $ 26million and before that mark it fetched a modest £ 322,500 at Sotheby’s London in February 2002.
It entered the market with a third party guarantee.
Before the drumbeat of the best batch of the evening, Banksy’s fume-polluted ode to Van Gogh, Gas station sunflowers from 2005 and carrying the Pest Control Certificate of Authenticity, barely flowered at $ 12.4 million ($ 14.6 million with fees) against an estimate of $ 12 to 18 million.
The seller, none other than Supreme Mercer Paul Smith, acquired it from a temporary gallery at 100 Westbourne Grove in London in 2005 at the time of Banksy’s solo show Raw oils: a gallery of remixed masterpieces, vandalism and vermin.
It was also covered by a third party warranty.
The shared-decision entry to the live auction night went to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s massive and striking The guilt of the golden teeth from 1982 and painted in Modena, Italy during the prodigy’s first foray into Europe, grossed $ 37 million ($ 40 million with fees), barely beating the Doig. It was backed by a third party guarantee and a very broad estimate range of $ 40 million to $ 80 million.
“Our job is to sell as much as we can for as much as we can”
The central figure, with his face painted white, black top hat and blood red legs, is a chilling tribute to the Haitian voodoo figure of Baron Samedi, a master of the dead.
It was last sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 1998 for $ 387,500, making it a sure-fire contender for the King of Capital Gains.
A second Basquiat offer, also with an Italian flavor, Flash in Naples starting in 1983 and displaying the same electrical ingredients of acrylic, oil and oil stick on canvas, made $ 17 million more robust ($ 20 million with fees) versus $ 14-18 million . Amy Cappellazzo of art consultancy Art Intelligence Global was the sub-bidder for the work.
It was last sold at Sotheby’s in New York in November 2017 for $ 8.1 million, a great indicator of the strength of the artist’s gold standard market.
Of the three offers of works by Cindy Sherman, Untitled from 1981 of his widely exposed Central folds series and featuring the artist posed under silk sheets, reached $ 2.6 million ($ 3.1 million with fees) against an estimate of $ 2-3 million.
In the sculpture arena, the stunning mural mix of 13 African masks and assorted rubbish by David Hammons sold to merchants Lévy Gorvy for $ 3.1 million ($ 3.7 million with fees) against an estimate of $ 3 million to $ 5 million.
“Our job,” said Alex Rotter, chair of Christie’s 20/21 art departments, summing up the evening, “is to sell as much as we can for as much as we can.”