Sotheby’s Sales of 20th Century Italian Art and Contemporary Art Totals $32,799,234

Sotheby’s Sales of 20th Century Italian Art and Contemporary Art, Including Arab and Iranian Art, brought a combined total of £20,157,550/$32,799,234 (Est. £15.6-21.6 million) and saw a total of seven new artist records established.

Commenting on the strong 20th Century Italian Art Sale results, Claudia Dwek, Co Chairman Sotheby’s Italy, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the results achieved for today’s sale of 20th Century Italian Art. As market leader in this category we were able to source excellent property by leading Modern and Post-War Italian Artists for our annual sale in this field and the results achieved this afternoon further demonstrate Sotheby’s established and excellent track record in the field of 20th Century Italian Art. The high sell-through rates of 97.9% by value – up from 94.2% last year – and 90.9% by lot are testament to the strength of the 20th century Italian Art market for artists such as Marini and De Chirico through to Melotti, Boetti and Castellani. We are also pleased to note that today’s sale saw activity from Italian Art collectors across the globe.”

Discussing today’s Contemporary Art Sale, Cheyenne Westphal, Chairman of Contemporary Art Sotheby’s Europe, said: “Today’s results and the activity we have seen this week send a very positive message to the art market. By keeping to the formula of offering property of desirable quality that is fresh to the market we achieved strong prices for a number of artists including Chris Ofili, Anish Kapoor and Yves Klein.”

20th Century Italian Art Sale
Continuing Sotheby’s success and leadership in the field of 20th Century Italian Art, today’s sale brought the remarkable total of £7,392,300 ($12,033,106), almost the high estimate for the sale (Est. £5.6-7.6 million), with just three lots failing to find buyers. The sale saw the second-highest price at auction established for a 1920s work by de Chirico and sell-through rates of 97.9% by value and 90.9% by lot.

The top-selling lot of the 20th Century Italian Art Sale was Giorgio De Chirico’s (1888 – 1978) oil on canvas “Interno con frutta.” The work, which came from a private European Collection where it has remained since it was acquired in the early 1970s, sold to a telephone bidder for £881,250 ($1,434,499) after competition with two other clients, against a pre-sale estimate of £900,000-1,200,000. The sum achieved represents the second-highest price for a 1920s work by the artist at auction. De Chirico’s painted the work during stay in Paris in the 1920s and is a stunning and monumental example of the ‘Classical’ period of his art.

The third and fourth highest prices established in this afternoon’s sale were for both for Post-War works by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968). Fontana’s red waterpaint on canvas “Concetto Spaziale, Attese,” which the artist executed in 1966, sold well in excess of its high estimate (Est. £300,000-400,000) for £457,250 ($744,312). The “White Concetto Spaziale” brought £385,250($627,110). The work comes from Fontana’s Olii series and the surface of the painting is made up of thick white oil paint upon which the artist has made a series of sweeping gestures and pierced three holes. Created in 1961, the work combines elements of sculpture and painting and represents Fontana’s ground breaking achievements in Spatialism.

A further highlight of the Modern works in the sale was the hand-painted and chiselled bronze sculpture, “Piccolo cavaliere” by Marino Marini (1901-1980). Two telephone bidders competed for the work which finally sold for £758,050 ($1,233,954). Marini executed the Piccolo cavaliere in 1950 and it is a prime example of Marini’s most celebrated theme – the horse and rider – adorned with a uniquely finished surface and hand-painted by the artist in shades of red, yellow and green.

Further strong prices in the auction were also established: “Planisfero Politico” by Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), one of the most important works from the career-defining year of 1969, which sold well above its high estimate of £260,000 for £337,250 ($548,976); “The Black Rose” by Jannis Kounellis (b.1936) sold for £409,250 ($666,177), double its low estimate (Est. £200,000-300,000); and the oil on canvas “Natura morta” painted in 1962 by Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964), which came from a private Italian collection brought £361,250 ($588,043) above its high estimate (Est. £250,000-350,000).

Contemporary Art, Including Arab and Iranian Art Sale
Today’s sale of Contemporary Art, Including Arab and Iranian Art, brought the outstanding total of £12,765,250 ($20,766,048) and established sell-through rates of 75.8% and 88.1%. New artist records were also established for Chris Ofili, José-María Cano and Hurvin Anderson.

Harefield Hospital Lots: In a crowded saleroom, nine lots donated by leading contemporary artists, including Tracey Emin – who was in attendance – and Grayson Perry, commenced today’s auction to raise funds for Harefield Hospital. With each work selling to a round of applause following multiple bids both from clients on the telephone and within the saleroom, the total raised of £485,000 ($789,483) for the nine works significantly exceeded the high estimate. The group carried a pre-sale estimate of £308,000-429,000 ($501,362- 698,326) and was led by Anselm Kiefer’s (b. 1945) “Paint, chemise, chalk, charcoal and glass in steel frame, “En Sof,” which achieved the strong price of £289,250 (including buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £150,000-200,000. Grayson Perry’s “Urn For The Living,” which sold for £58,850, was acquired by a British Collector who would like to lend the pot to the Harefield Hospital to be put on display there.

The auction was highlighted by the sale of “Fuego Flores” in acrylic and oilstick on canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), which saw competition from five bidders – four on the telephone and one in the saleroom – and sold within estimate for £959,650 (Est. £800,000-1,200,000). The work, signed, titled and dated 1983, has remained off the market for over 20 years and was last exhibited publicly in the 1984 exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Gallery V in Stockholm. This sensational canvas was executed at the very height of Basquiat’s brief and brilliant artistic career.

The second-highest price in the sale was established for “Untitled” by Anish Kapoor (b. 1954), a remarkable polished stainless steel work which measures 250 cm. by 250 cm. by 60 cm., which manifests all the pioneering ingenuity in material and spatial possibilities that characterise the very best output of this world-renowned sculptor. The work saw competition from four telephone bidders and sold for £825,250 ($1,343,342), in excess of its high estimate (Est. £600,000-800,000).

The masterpiece and catalogue cover lot “Afro Apparition” by Chris Ofili (b.1968) was the subject of a bidding battle among six clients, which drove the final price to £577,250 ($939,648), more than double its pre-sale low estimate (Est. £280,000-350,000). It achieved a new record for the artist at auction (in Pounds Sterling). Afro Apparition is the most important work by the artist ever to appear at auction and is a stunning example of Ofili’s explorations of the interplay between cultural stereotyping and identity, aesthetic beauty and materials.

Further strong prices were also achieved in today’s sale for: Yves Klein’s (1928-1962) Pigment and synthetic resin on canvas laid down on panel “IKB 294” raised £657,250 ($1,069,872) against a pre-sale estimate of £300,000-400,000; four bidders competed for Retribution, butterflies and household gloss on canvas, which highlighted the works in the auction by Damien Hirst (b. 1965) and sold for £541,250 ($881,047) (Est. £450,000-650,000); and “Abstraktes Bild” by Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) brought £529,250 ($861,513) (Est.£500,000-700,000).

“Arab and Iranian Art: Highlighting” the 46-lot section of the sale was “Cowboy and Indian,” in Acrylic and glitter on canvas, in two parts, by Farhad Moshiri (b. 1963), an artist who is at the very forefront of Contemporary Iranian Art. The work sold for £397,250 ($646,644) against an estimate of £150,000-200,000.

Commenting on the results of the Arab and Iranian Art section of the Contemporary Art Sale, Lina Lazaar and Dalya Islam, the specialists in charge, said: “Today’s sale was the first test of this market on the international platform of Sotheby’s annual sale of Contemporary Art to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair. We very much look forward to building on these results, which were highlighted by the encouraging prices achieved for Farhad Moshiri and Mona Hatoum.”

Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum’s extraordinary and monumental “Untitled, (Baalbeck Birdcage)” of 1999 in wood and galvanized steel achieved the sum of £109,250 ($177,837), within pre-sale expectations of £100,000-150,000.

Artist Records:

LOT 113
CHRIS OFILI
B.1968
AFRO APPARITION
£280,000—350,000
Sold for £577,250 (A record in Pounds Sterling)
Previous record: $1,001,600 / £535,186

LOT 131
JOSÉ-MARÍA CANO
B. 1959
QUEEN ELIZABETH II
£30,000—50,000
Sold for £61,250
Previous record: £48,000

LOT 112
HURVIN ANDERSON
B. 1965
UNTITLED (BEACH SCENE)
£20,000—30,000
Sold for £97,250
Previous record: £2,000

LOT 315
Y. Z. KAMI
IRANIAN, B. 1966
BLUE DOME I
£60,000—80,000
Sold for £73,250
Previous record: £39,650

LOT 333
RAMIN HAERIZADEH
IRANIAN, B. 1975
ELECTION IS SH..T!
£5,000—7,000
Sold for £12,500
Previous record: £8,125

LOT 336
FARHAD AHRARNIA
IRANIAN, B. 1971
THE FLESH OF WORDS
£12,000—18,000
Sold for £15,000
Previous record £5,000

LOT 340
SABAH NAIM
EGYPTIAN, B. 1967
UNTITLED
£7,000—10,000
Sold for £8,750
Previous record: $6,250

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