Christie’s New York Major Spring Auction Series Yields $557M in Total Sales

Andy Warhol’s “Self-Portrait, 1963-1964” sold for a world auction record price for a Warhol portrait, realizing $38,442,500 at Christie’s.

NEW YORK — A just-concluded two-week series of art auctions devoted to important Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art held by Christie’s realized a combined $557 million, underscoring the solid demand in the high-end art market.

In total, a whopping 88 lots offered over the course of the last two weeks surpassed the $1 million price threshold. Two lots—the record-setting 1963-64 Andy Warhol self portrait and a rediscovered Mark Rothko—exceeded the $30 million mark, and nine lots exceeded the $10 million mark. Numerous artist records were set—for Maurice de Vlaminck, Maximilien Luce, Cindy Sherman, Urs Fischer, Richard Diebenkorn, Cy Twombly and Anselm Kiefer, among others. Among the many landmark prices achieved, Christie’s also set the record for the most expensive photograph ever sold (Cindy Sherman) and the top price for any Warhol portrait.

“These sales were marked by strong, sensible bidding on the part of collectors, with moments of rational exuberance,” said Marc Porter, chairman and president of Christie’s Americas. “Collectors and dealers alike were committed to acquiring the very best examples of work, whether from blue-chip legends like Picasso and Warhol, or from contemporary artists like Urs Fischer and Marc Quinn.”

Among the themes and trends that emerged during the sales series was the continued demand for top-quality works by Warhol. Christie’s offered a total of 25 works by the art world’s King of Pop, realizing a combined total of $96,729,850. The photo-booth style “Self-Portrait, 1963-64”—the artist’s very first self-portrait—sold for $38,442,500 after a protracted bidding competition that auctioneer Christopher Burge quipped was “the longest lot in history.” The price with premium surpasses the previous record of $32.5 million set for a Warhol self-portrait last year. On the same night, “Self-Portrait, 1986”—from the last great self-portrait series the artist completed before his death in 1987—sold to a bidder in the room for $27,522,500.


Maurice de Vlaminck’s “Paysage de banlieue” (1905) recorded a world auction record for the artist by selling for $22,482,500.

Self-portraits by post-war and contemporary artists fared well overall, from Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for Self-Portrait,” 1974, which fetched $25,282,500, to Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled,” 1981—which established not only a new world auction record for the artist, but also set a new world auction record for any photograph at $3,890,500.


Re-discovered works also inspired collectors this season, and Christie’s unveiled several significant paintings that had been hidden from view in private collections for decades. Leading the group is Pablo Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger, version L,” one of the largest works within the artist’s groundbreaking series of 15 paintings created in 1955 in homage to the masterpiece of the same name by the 19th century master Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). Originally owned by the legendary New York collectors Victor and Sally Ganz, the grisaille-toned painting of a single female figure was offered from a private American collection and had not been seen in public in more than 50 years. It fetched $21,362,500.

In the Post-War & Contemporary sales, Mark Rothko’s “Untitled No. 17,” a rare discovery and heralded addition to the great Rothko canon, realized $33,682,500, while Roy Lichtenstein’s drawing “Study for Kiss V,” a study for one of Lichtenstein’s most famous paintings fetched $2,098,500. This magnificent work was acquired for a mere $10 in 1965 at a New York City “Happening,” and had been owned by the same collector since.

Claude Monet’s plein air “Les Peupliers,” painted in 1891, sold for $22,482,500.

Mark Rothko’s “Untitled No. 17” (1961) brought $33,682,500.

In addition to the new world auction records mentioned above, world records were established for the following artists, including:


• Maurice de Vlaminck – $22,482,500 for “Paysage de Banlieue,” 1905
• Cy Twombly – $15,202,500 for “Untitled, 1967.
• Richard Diebenkorn – $7,698,500 for “Ocean Park #121, 1980.
• Urs Fischer- $6,802,500 for “Untitled (Lamp/Bear), 2005-2006
• Maximilien Luce – $4,226,500 for “Notre-Dame de Paris,” 1900
• Robert Indiana – $4,114,500 for “Love Red/Blue, 1990.
• Anselm Kiefer – $3,554,500 for “Laßt tausend Blumen blühen! ,” 1999
• Marc Quinn – $1,202,500 for “Myth Venus, 2006
• George Condo – $1,052,500 for “The Ballerina, 2002
• Henri Lebasque, $1,022,500 for “Le goûter sur la terrasse à Sainte-Maxime,” 1914
• Jean Helion, $782,500 for “Sans titre,” 1935
Alexander Calder – $602,500 for “Necklace,” 1939, a world auction record for Calder jewelry.


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