Lowered Reserves Power Unremarkable Sotheby's Result
Source:Artinfo Author:Judd Tully Date: 2008-10-21 Size:
New York private dealer Nancy Whyte purchased Gerhard Richter’s "Abstraktes Bild (Rot)" (1991) for £2,841,250,Courtesy Sotheby's If Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in London tonight did somewhat better than expected, it was only due to the pre-sale across-th

New York private dealer Nancy Whyte purchased Gerhard Richter’s "Abstraktes Bild (Rot)" (1991) for £2,841,250,Courtesy Sotheby's

If Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in London tonight did somewhat better than expected, it was only due to the pre-sale across-the-board lowering of reserves.

“I think Sotheby’s was taking a view,” said New York private dealer Nancy Whyte. “They got the reserves down and everyone seemed to be pretty happy. It wasn’t a disaster.”

Whyte purchased the evening’s second highest lot, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (Rot) (1991), which carried a guarantee, on a single bid of £2,841,250 (est. £3–4 million).

The top lot was Andy Warhol’s Sculls, which sold for £4,353,250 ($7,543,312; est. £5–7 million) to New York trader Jose Mugrabi. The evening’s third highest earner was an untitled 1981 work by Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold for £1,609,250 (£1.5–2 million) to a telephone bidder; the underbidder was New York dealer Andrew Terner, bidding on behalf of a private client. These were the only three pieces to sell for more than £1 million; eight works in total went for more than $1 million.

One of the few high-performing lots was Ghanaian artist El Anatsui’s Healer (2006), a large tapestry-like work in aluminum and copper wire, which went to a telephone bidder for a record £349,250 (£180—250,000).

In total the sale earned £22,008,250 ($38,135,896), well below its pre-sale estimate of £30.6–42.7 million. Seventeen of the 62 lots on offer failed to find buyers (two works were withdrawn before the sale), for a sold rate of 72.6 percent by lot and 72.5 percent by value.

In terms of geographical breakdown, 40 percent of buyers were from the United States, 38 percent from Europe, 16 percent from the U.K., 2 percent from the Middle East, 2 percent from Asia, and 2 percent "other." Russia appeared to have a minimal presence; the top Russian lot, Erik Bulatov’s 1994 oil on canvas Jumping, was bought in after a chandelier bid of £240,000 (est. £250–350,000).

“People have more faith in art than in the banks and the financial markets,” said Swiss collector Georges Marci, who bought two works by Indian artists: Ravinder Reddy’s Head of Vasundra for £169,250 (est. £180–250,000) and a piece by Subodh Gupta.

[Editor] Zhang Shuo

    Artintern