The night of 12th November marked a significant milestone in the long and decorated history of the London based auction house, Christie’s. During this evening, the famous auction house set Art market history selling a staggering $846 million of contemporary art, smashing its own sales record of $611 million achieved last year. In 2013, the November evening auction was dominated by the painting Three Studies of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon, auctioned for an impressive $142 million (€105 million) while this year’s auction centred around other pieces, with particular interest in three works by the renowned pop artist Andy Warhol. The fee paid for Three Studies of Lucien Freud was the highest a work by Bacon had ever achieved (in 2008 Roman Abramovich paid $64 million for another piece by the British author) making it the most expensive painting ever to be auctioned.
The $846 million (more than €682 million) of contemporary art sold last Wednesday 12th November was a new record in the world of art auctioning. The figure was reached, above all, due to the sale of three works by Andy Warhol. The iconic Triple Elvis raised €65.7 million (almost $81.5 million), the Four Marlons sold for €55.8 million (a little more than $69 million) and his unique version of the Mona Lisa changed hands for €4.7 million ($5.8 million). Despite the success of the evening event dedicated to contemporary art, Warhol was unable to surpass his own sales record, achieved last year with the auction of Silver car crash for €80 million (more than $99 million).
However, various works did in fact manage to break several artists personal sales records, amongst them, Cy Twombly, with one of his pieces auctioned for €55.8 million (more than $69 million) or George Baselitz, with a sale of €5.9 million ($7.3 million). Despite the expectation, Seated Figure by Francis Bacon, fell a long way short of a new record for the author, being auctioned in the end for €32 million ($39.7 million).
In the words of Brett Gorvy, President and International Director of Contemporary and Post-War Art at Christie’s, the record sales figure achieved is a “reflection of both growing global enthusiasm and demand in this category” as well as an indication of the current levels of confidence in the art market; one that brings “a fresh supply of exciting, high-quality works…with each new season”. In addition, Steven Murphy, CEO of the London auction house, signalled that the result from the 12th November was a special moment in the history of art auctions, with the figure being “a testimony to the depth of interest in art across the globe” while “record museum attendance and record art sales at Christie’s” around the world in a variety of sectors shows that the appreciation of works of art has become “a universal pursuit”.