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    Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

    Monet, Picasso, Bacon and Rothko were the highest priced artists at Sotheby’s in 2019. The top lot of the year at Sotheby’s was Meules by Monet which made $110,747,000 in New York. Picasso’s Femme au Chien made $54,936,000, Bacon’s Study for a Head sold for $50,380,000 and an untitled work by Mark Rothko made $50,095,250. All these works were sold in New York last May.

    Claude Monet – Meules


    Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

    The scene at Sotheby's contemporary evening sale.

    Sotheby’s evening Contemporary Art sale on June 29 brought in £108,803,550 the highest total ever for such a sale in London.  Francis Bacon’s Crouching Nude from 1961 was the top selling lot.  It made  £8,329,250.

    The Duerckheim Collection of contemporary German art, which comprised the first 34 lots, realised £60,401,650.  Almost every lot here was contested by multiple bidders. New artist records were established for Blinky Palermo, Sigmar Polke, Eugen Schönebeck, Markus Lüpertz and Georg Baselitz.
    Andy Warhol’s electric pink acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas of Blondie’s lead singer Debbie Harry – the only major painting of renowned lead singer of the new wave and punk rock band ever to come to auction – sold for £3,737,250/ against an estimate of £3.5-5.5 million.  An early Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, Untitled, made £5,417,250 to become the second highest priced lot.
    Headlining the Duerckheim collection were a number of paintings by Sigmar Polke. His record was broken three times in quick succession.  Dschungel, the largest of the Rasterbilder (dot paintings) from the 1960s ever to appear for public sale, made £5,753,250.  A new record was set for Georg Baselitz when Spekulatius from the celebrated ‘Hero’ series sold for £3,233,250. Baselitz’s Grosse Nacht made £2,393,250.  There was exceptional prices for Gerhard Richter whose 1024 Farben from 1974 more than doubled its pre-sale high estimate to make £4,297,250. Buyers from 14 countries took part in an auction which was 89.8% sold by lot and 93.9% by value.  No less than 29 works sold for over £1 million, and 45 lots made over $1 million.
    See posts for April 26 and June 7.


    Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

    Francis Bacon (1909-1992) Study for a Portrait made £17,961,250. (Click on image to enlarge). Copyright Christie's.

    Study for a Portrait by Irish born Francis Bacon was the top lot at Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art evening auction on June 28.  It made £17,961,250.  Bought by an anonymous telephone bidder it had been estimated to make around £11 million.

    The work was previously owned by Rodrigo Moynihan, a pioneer of abstract painting in the 1930’s, and the Irish artist Louis Le Brocquy.

    An untitled work by Damien Hirst executed in 1996 of butterflies and household gloss paint on canvas sold for £601,250.

    Damien Hirst (b. 1965) Untitled made £601,250 at Christie's. (Click on image to enlarge), Copyright Christie's Images.

    The sale realised £78,817,050. This was the second highest total for the category. A total of 19 lots sold for over £1 million (25 over $1 million). Buyers came from 16 different countries and the breakdown was 59% Europe including UK, 26% Americas and 15% Asia.  Artist records were set for Juan Muñoz, Ron Mueck, Paula Rego, Domenico Gnoli and Miquel Barceló, who set a record for any living Spanish artist.

    Red Boat (Imaginary Boys), 2003-04, by Peter Doig (b.1959) sold for £6,201,250; Faena de muleta, 1990, by Miquel Barceló (b.1957) sold for £3,961,250 and seven works from the collection of Kay Saatchi sold for a total of £3,992,750.

    See posts for June 27, May 24 and March 31.


    Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

    Francis Bacon Study for A Portrait, 1953. (click on image to enlarge)

    A painting by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) once owned by his friend Louis le Brocquy could make £11 million at Christie’s.  Study for a Portrait, 1953 will be a highlight of Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art sale in London on June 28.

    It has previously been owned by two of Francis Bacon’s contemporaries: Rodrigo Moynihan, a pioneer of abstract painting in the 1930’s who was Professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art and le Brocquy.
    This was one of the last paintings Bacon made in his studio at the Royal College of Art rented from Rodrigo Moynihan from 1951 to 1953.  He created some of his greatest landmark works here including the definitive series of Popes and his first portrait triptych.
    Le Brocquy acquired the painting from Moynihan.  The Irish artist in turn sold it to Marlborough Fine Art.  Never sold at auction, it has been in private hands since. In 1984 it was bought from Marlborough by the Swiss entrepreneur and wine producer Donald M Hess, one of the world’s top art collectors.
    Francis Bacon’s work is among the most popular 20th century art sold at auction. His Three Studies for Self Portrait, 1974 made $25,282,500 / £15,422,325 at Christie’s New York earlier this month.  Another Bacon, Untitled (Crouching Nude on Rail), 1952, made $9,602,500 / £5,857,525 at the same sale.
    UPDATE:  IT made £17,961,250


    Saturday, February 5th, 2011

    Bacon's study for a portrait of Lucian Freud (click on images to enlarge)

    Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a portrait of Lucian Freud features at a sale at Sotheby’s on February 10.  On offer is an exceptional private collection of 60 European modern and contemporary works collected over 30 years.  Along with the Bacon (estimated at £7-9 million) it includes work by Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Lucian Freud, Alexander Calder and Eduardo Chillida.
    UPDATE: The Bacon headlined Sotheby’s Evening Auction ‘Looking Closely – A Private Collection’. Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud, made the outstanding sum of £23,001,250/$37,004,411triple the pre-sale estimate. More than ten bidders from four continents competed for this exceptional and intimate artwork, before it finally sold after 7 minutes to an anonymous buyer in the room.


    Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
    An image of Francis Bacon (1909– 1992) the artists known for his bold, austere, graphic and emotionally raw imagery, heads Bonhams first Irish Art Sale in London on February 9.  It is the work of Bacon’s friend and fellow painter, Louis Le Brocquy, Ireland’s foremost living artist.
    The watercolour  is estimated to sell for £60,000 to £80,000.  Although he painted Bacon several times, trying to capture “the Baconness of Bacon”, this example is more representational than most.
    Speaking about his art Louis Le Brocquy says: “Contrary to a generally held view, I think that painting is not in any direct sense a means of communication or a means of self-expression. When you are painting you are trying to discover, to uncover, to reveal. I sometimes think of the activity of painting as a kind of archaeology – an archaeology of the spirit.”
    See post for December 22


    Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
    Bacon by le Brocquy is a feature lot at Bonhams first dedicated Irish art sale in London on February 9.

    Bacon by le Brocquy. (click to enlarge)

    An evocative portrait of Francis Bacon by Ireland’s foremost living artist, Louis le Brocquy, is estimated at £60,000 to £80,000.  Bonhams reckon the watercolour is one of the most significant lots to feature in the New Bond Street sale.

    Louis le Brocquy is on record as saying: “Contrary to a generally held view, I think that painting is not in any direct sense a means of communication or a means of self-expression. When you are painting you are trying to discover, to uncover, to reveal. I sometimes think of the activity of painting as a kind of archaeology – an archaeology of the spirit.”
    le Brocquy painted his friend Francis Bacon several times.  He set out to capture “the Baconness of Bacon”. The example at Bonham’s Irish sale is more representational than most.
    Penny Day, Head of Irish Art at Bonhams, says: “It is rare to find an image that combines the names and reputations of two giants of British and Irish art, in this instance as artist and sitter”.
    The worldwide reputation of Francis Bacon, who was born in Ireland, has grown steadily since his death in 1992. His South Kensington Studio has been re-constructed at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin using the original door, walls, floors, ceiling and shelves. Over 7,000 items were catalogued on a specially designed database before their replacement.
    See post for September 15


    Monday, October 11th, 2010
    Sotheby’s will offer Francis Bacon’s Figure In Movement in New York in November.  This is the most significant Bacon painting to appear at auction in several seasons. The 1985 portrait of a man twisting and writhing, demonstrates the artist’s genius in painting the human figure in motion.  It was given by Bacon to his doctor in the year it was painted.
    Figure In Movement has been in the same collection ever since. It featured in the 2008 landmark exhibition Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which began at Tate Britain. It was also shown at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. The painting has been on extended loan to Tate Britain for the past decade.  It comes up at Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art on November 9, 2010 in New York.  It is estimated to sell for $7/10 million.
    UPDATE:  It sold for $14,082,500 including buyer’s premium.