Lucian Freud's Boy's Head painting tops off Sotheby's contemporary/Italian art evening

Sotheby's concluded their October 2011 Evening Sales of 20th Century Italian Art and Contemporary Art last night (October 13) with a total of £39.5m ($62m) starring a work by the late Lucian Freud: Boy's Head.

Of this the 20th Century Italian Art Sale realised £21,647,950 ($34,060,885), making it the highest-ever total for a sale staged in this category.

Commenting on the results of tonight's sales of 20th Century Italian Art and Contemporary Art, Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby's Chairman of Contemporary Art Europe, said:

"Building on the solid successes Sotheby's has achieved in the collecting category of 20th Century Italian Art in the past couple of seasons, we were able to bring to market this evening this important private collection which offered works of breath-taking scope and quality as well as freshness to the market.

Lucian Freud Boys Head contemporary art
Lucian Freud's startling Boy's Head

"Collectors responded with enthusiasm, giving us the highest total achieved this evening for any sale of 20th Century Italian Art ever staged. Highlights of our sale of Contemporary Art included an indisputable masterpiece by Lucian Freud, the great legend of the London School."

Lucian Freud's Boy's Head was indeed the top lot of the contemporary art auction, selling for £3,177,250 ($4,999,085). Leon Kossoff's A Street in Willesden brought £690,850 ($1,086,983) a record for the artist at auction.

Mark Quinn Siren gold Kate Moss yoga pose
Mark Quinn's work Microcosmos or Siren which sold for £577,250
It is a rendering of Kate Moss in a yoga pose using 10kg of gold

Headlining the Italian art auction was an exceptional private collection of Italian Art that spans the entire 20th century, titled 'Italian Identity'. The collection represents all of the major developments in Italian Avant-garde art.

The night's sale was highlighted by Alberto Burri's Combustione Legno of 1957, which set a new record for the artist at auction.

Alberto Burri Combustione Legno
Alberto Burri's dark and disturbing Combustione Legno

The work, which was estimated at £800,000-1,200,000, saw competition from over five bidders, both in the saleroom and on the telephones, and finally sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for the well-above-expectations sum of £3,177,250 ($4,999,085).

Collectors interested in contemporary art should take a look at those we have available, such as this piece by Sarah Kate Wilson.

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