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    GEORG BASELITZ (b. 1938) Die Grosse Nacht (The Big Night) Estimate: £2-3 million. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: IT MADE £2,393,250

    BRENDAN BEHAN was the inspiration for a major highlight of the most significant collection of contemporary German art of the 1960’s and 1970’s ever to come to auction.  Sotheby’s offering of The Duerckheim Collection in June includes masterful works by Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke.  The sale in London is expected to bring in more than £33 million sterling.

    Sigmar Polke (1941-2010) Stadtbild II Estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT MADE £4,633,250

    Georg Baselitz’s Die Grosse Nacht  (The Big Night) from 1962-63 is the most important German work of art of the post war period to come to the market.  It is the first of three paintings on this theme, one of which is housed in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne while the other is one long term loan at the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven.  When unveiled in 1963 at the artist’s first solo exhibition – the inaugural show of Michael Werner and Benjamin Katz’s gallery in West Berlin – it was confiscated by the Director of Public Prosecutions for “infringement of public morality”.  The artist and gallerists were fined.
    The work was inspired by a newspaper article about the Irish poet, Brendan Behan, who gave a reading of his poetry drunk on stage with his trouser flies open. For the artist the work represents the ultimate provocation, which he considers the ultimate and inevitable purpose of his painting.  Georg Baselitz has stated that perhaps he never has and never will make a finer painting than The Big Night Down the Drain. The work is estimated at £2-3 million.
    The 59 artworks in the Duerckheim Collection have not appeared on the market for over 30 years.  They will be offered at Contemporary Art evening and day auctions on June 29 and June 30.  The works include early photo paintings by Gerhard Richter and rare early works by Sigmar Polke, Blinky Palermo, Konrad Lueg, Jörg Immendorff and Eugen Schönebeck.
    UPDATE:  New artist records were established for Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke, Eugen Schönebeck, Markus Lüpertz and Georg Baselitz.  The Duerckheim Collection of contemporary German art, which comprised the first 34 lots, realised £60,401,650.

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