Financial markets may be fluctuating in the wake of the Brexit vote, but the art market showed its durability at Sotheby’s June 28 Contemporary Art Evening sale. Two artist records led the auction – Jenny Saville’s monumental Shift brought £6.8 million and Keith Haring’s The Last Rainforest realised £4.2 million. Bidding was strong and competitive from the sale’s opening lots, notably Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets (£677,000) and a buoyant Alexander Calder mobile (£1.7 million). A trio of works by Jean Dubuffet and two canvases by the sought-after painter Adrian Ghenie also contributed to the £52.2 million total.
Last exhibited at the epoch-defining exhibition “Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection”, Shift merits its revered place in art history as the standout work of Saville’s prodigious career. Offered at auction for the first time the painting tripled the artist’s previous auction record of £2.1m set in 2014.