Christie's contemporary art sales boom to 139% above 2009

To gauge how the art markets are doing in these times of economic uncertainty, you need look no further than the recent end-of-season contemporary sales at market leaders Sotheby's and Christie's.

Both sales showed a massive improvement on their 2009 equivalent auctions. Sotheby's reported a 60% improvement, while Christie's beat its own 2009 results by a whopping 139%.

Overall, Sotheby's sale on June 28 posted final results of £41.1m, with Christie's auction netting £45.6m in total. Eighty-three percent and 84% of works sold at the auctions, respectively.

Jules de Balincourt's US World Studies II, 2005

According to reports, Christie's event was the livelier affair thanks to extra efforts by the auction house to stage an ebullient event for its buyers.

The sale opened on a massive high, with Jules de Balincourt's US World Studies II, 2005, selling for £277,250 - way above its £40,000-60,000 pre-sale estimate.

This was especially remarkable considering that De Balincourt hasn't always sold strongly at auctions in the past.

Also at Christie's, Roy Lichtenstein's Collage for Nude with Red Shirt, 1995 surpassed all expectations. It sold over the telephone for £2.7m against an estimate of £600,000-£800,000.

Roy Lichtenstein's Collage for Nude with Red Shirt

Meanwhile, highlights at Sotheby's included Yves Klein’s MG 42, 1960, sold for £481,250 (nicely above its £200,000-300,000 estimate) to a telephone bidder.

It went under the hammer alongside a collection of British art "from a distinguished private collection" which netted a total of £4.3m over its £3.4m estimate.

Big sales from the collection included Leon Kossoff's King's Cross, March Afternoon, 1998, for £457,250 (estimated at £250,000-£350,000) and Patrick Heron's October Horizon: October 1957, 1957, for £481,250 (over its £250,000-£350,000 estimate).


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