Sotheby's breaks its own contemporary art sale record with $172m auction


A record-breaking sale took place last night, June 29, in which Sotheby's set a new benchmark for an auction of contemporary art in London.

The sale made a colossal grand total of £108m ($172m), easily cruising past the pre-sale estimate of between £74m-105m ($118m-168m). The highly anticipated event saw works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, and Damien Hirst achieve impressive prices.


Francis Bacon's famous depiction of a nude female made $13.3m

It also gained international recognition, with buyers from 14 countries participating, and experienced a fantastic sell-through rate of 93.9% by value. In all, an amazing 45 lots sold for more than $1m.

It was yet another incredible sale which has recently taken place, as on Tuesday June 28 Christie's also held a highly successful auction of similar works, which included 19 lots that sold for more than $1m.

This had been preceded by Phillips de Pury's London event on Monday, which also contained some brilliant pieces which sold for high prices. Clearly this indicates that at this very moment, the art market is the strongest it's been for some time.


Experimental and aggressive, this Basquiat work reached $8.9m

As optimism increases, which often is the case after events like this, so should the prices. This means that really if you are looking to invest in art which will give a return on your money in the years to come, now is the best time to do it.

The work which had been touted as the star of the show turned out to be just that, as Francis Bacon's work Crouching Nude from 1961 reeled in a price of £8.3m ($13.3m).

The piece, done in Bacon's typically unnerving style of placing subjects against a nondescript background, forces the viewer to focus on it.


Produced in his typical style, Warhol's work made $5.9m

It marked a stylistic change for Bacon, as he shifted from using static poses, like that of 1953's famous painting Study after Velázquez's Portrait, to what has been called an 'explosion of mobile, anatomies' afterwards.

Also performing well was an early, highly experimental piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose work also featured in Phillips de Pury's sale. Called Untitled, it has elements of being a self-portrait, and engages the viewer with its aggressive stance and attitude. Unsurprisingly, it reached a strong price of $8.9m.

Also featuring, as his works often do in these sales, was a piece from Andy Warhol of music star Debbie Harry. The bright pink silkscreen sold for $5.9m.


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