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Top works fail at Christie's contemporary auction
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite major casualties, Christie's managed to meet expectations on Tuesday at its uneven auction of post-war and contemporary art.
The sale, at which 85 percent of the 46 lots found buyers, saw briskly competitive bidding in a packed salesroom, taking in $74,151,500 including commission, right in the middle of the auction house's pre-sale estimate.
But both of the most expensive lots -- Jean-Michel Basquiat's "Brother Sausage," estimated at $9 million to $12 million, and Andy Warhol's "Tunafish Disaster," estimated at $6 million to $8 million -- failed to sell.
Other works spawned protracted bidding wars, notably Peter Doig's "Reflection (What Does Your Soul Look Like?)" which soared to $10,162,500 or twice the pre-sale estimate.
Amy Cappellazzo, Christie's international co-head of contemporary art, said the competition was "reminiscent of 18 months ago" -- when the art market boom was at its peak and just before the financial crisis sent prices plummeting.
Works by Jeff Koons, Donald Judd, Jasper Johns and Alexander Calder also achieved strong prices, some selling for more than twice their high estimates.
Christie's tried to keep estimates conservative, or "attractive" as officials put it, and the strategy often paid handsomely in a market still struggling to find its price points.
"These results reflected a market that is sophisticated, focused and determined in its buying activity," said Marc Porter, president of Christie's Americas.
The Basquiat, the top-estimated work in two weeks of sales at Christie's and rival Sotheby's, and the Warhol suffered from an appeal limited to a "small, dedicated group" of collectors, Cappellazzo said, despite their "museum quality."
"It was too intellectual a painting for this market," her partner Brett Gorvy said of the Basquiat, adding that perhaps the estimate was too high as well. Before the sale, it was announced that another Warhol had been withdrawn.
U.S. buyers dominated, accounting for 82 percent of the sale. Europeans made up 13 percent, with Asian and other buyers accounting for 2.5 percent each.
The fall auctions wrap up on Wednesday with the contemporary and post-war sale at Sotheby's, which last week sold more than $180 million worth of Impressionist and modern art, giving the market a much-needed shot in the arm.
(Editing by John O'Callaghan)
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