Black Fire I by Barnett Newman made $84,165,000.
THE $744,944,000 achieved at Christie’s evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York on May 13 represents the highest total in art market history. The top lot was Black Fire I, a sublime Abstract Expressionist masterpiece by Barnett Newman (1905-1970). It sold for $84,165,000, doubling the previous record for the artist. Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards sold for $80,805,000.
Two contemporary sales at Christies on May 12 and 13 achieved a combined total of $879,574,000 with a sell through rate of 98% by value and 95% by lot. Bidders from 35 countries competed. With a wide range of examples from the collections of Edwin A. and Lindy Bergman, the Estate of Anita Reiner, Phillip Schrager, Frances R. Dittmer, and institutions such as the E.ON Art Collection in Düsseldorf, and The Art Institute of Chicago, collectors competed for works with the best quality and significant provenance. The two evening sales established 26 new world auction records, selling two works over $80million, four over $50million, 12 over $20 million, 19 over $10 million and 86 over $1 million. 80% of the lots were completely new to the auction market.
Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art said: “The sales so far this week have demonstrated the growing appetite for contemporary art across the global marketplace. From the highest number of visitors to our online space to the 12,500 people visiting our public exhibitions, from the volume of bidders in the sales themselves to the significant number of new artist records set, we are seeing unprecedented momentum in the market as the desire to connect with great art continues to grow.”
(See post on antiquesandartireland.com for April 14, 2014).