Frieze art fair round-up - the week's top auction sales

Billed as "the contemporary art event of the year", the annual Frieze fair graced London once again this week (October 16-20), giving the world's art-buying public the opportunity to view and purchase works from emerging and established artists.

Frieze art fair
The fair is housed in a bespoke structure in Regent's Park


The fair, designed by architects Carmody Groarke and housed in a bespoke structure in Regent's Park, showcases the work of 1,000 leading artists. Joined by the sibling event Frieze Masters, which offers art from ancient to modern, the dynamic duo attract the top collectors in the main art categories to the UK capital.

Of course, auction houses would never pass up an opportunity such as this, and all the market leaders were out in force to offer some of the finest works from contemporary artists on the market today.

Phillips and Bonhams held the first sales of the week on October 16. Bonhams' auction was dominated by mid-level works from big names, such as Gerhard Richter, whose Untitled (5.2.91) led with a 125% increase on estimate - as if the art-buying world needed any further proof of the buoyancy of the market for his work.

Gerhard richter Abstraktes Bild
Richter holds the record for the most valuable living artist, with this work expected to set a new mark in November


The sale comes in anticipation of Christie's contemporary art sale in New York in November, where a painting from Richter's acclaimed Abstraktes Bild series could top the record for his work, pushing values even higher.

Phillips' auction focused on the very forefront of the contemporary art market, topped by a new auction record for Ryan Sullivan, an artist fresh from a sell-out show at the new London gallery of Sadie Coles. His February 5, 2011 sold for £98,500 ($159,195) - a 64.1% increase on its £60,000 high estimate.

Market leader Christie's combined exhibitions and auctions to attract over 15,000 visitors to its showrooms. The auction house sold a total of £67.8m ($109.5m), including the most successful sale of Italian post-war art ever held, which realised £26.7m ($43.3m) and was highlighted by Alberto Burri's Sacco at £2.9m ($4.8m).

Tracy Emin bed To Meet My Past
Emin's To Meet My Past demonstrates the continued selling power of the Young British Artists


The most impressive auction of the week was Christie's sale of Charles Saatchi's largest sculptures and installations, which certainly provided an element of spectacle at the event. A new auction record for Tracey Emin was achieved by her To Meet My Past, a four-poster bed, which sold for £481,875 ($770,519).

Christie's Evening Auction, its most important sale of the week, was highlighted by Glenn Brown's monumental sci-fi painting Bocklin's Tomb at £2.3m ($3.7m). It was one of two Brown paintings from the 12-strong series to be offered at auction this week, with the second - Ornamental Despair - selling for £3.5m ($5.7m) at Sotheby's.

Brown's work is characterised by the use of historical art references, appealing to both Frieze's contemporary art and old master's collectors.

Glenn Brown Bocklin's Tomb
Brown's Bocklin's Tomb is inspired by Isle of the Dead, a noted work from Swiss symbolist Arnold Bocklin


The Frieze fair is hugely influential within the contemporary art market, and it is here that collectors discover emerging artists that could prove a lucrative investment for the future. One such artist displaying serious selling power was Lynette Yiadom Boakye, who sold all of her works at the exhibition, as well as achieving notable sales at Christie's and Sotheby's.


With the artist a sell-out success at Frieze and nominated for a Turner Prize, Lynette Yiadom Boakye's work could prove a worthwhile purchase


The 2013 Turner Prize-nominated artist's Politics sold 162.5% up on its £20,000 estimate at Sotheby's, while Diplomacy II sold at Christie's with a 193% increase at £146,500 ($106,868).

Yet, despite the Frieze fair's importance to contemporary art, the real action will take place in New York in November. The leading auction houses will once again converge for post-war and contemporary sales that focus less on new talents and more on the established names.

The sales will offer masterpieces from Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon, among others, with records set to tumble.

Our free newsletter is an essential resource for art collectors - sign up today

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock