Andy Warhol once again defines art market, sparks record bidding battle for $38.4 million self portrait

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale realized $301.6 million, exhibiting a thriving and healthy market for art, in which buyers fiercely competed for works of utmost quality, provenance and beauty. The auction’s sell through rates — 95 percent sold by lot and 99 percent sold by value — reaffirms Christie’s position as market leader for the category.

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Brett Gorvy, Christie’s International Co-Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Deputy Chairman comments: “Tonight’s extraordinary results exemplify the market’s vigor for top-quality works of art. Christie’s remains the Warhol leader, with $90,988,000 in Warhol sales in this auction alone; including the establishment of a brilliant new world auction record for a portrait by the Pop master for his seminal 1963-1964 Self-Portrait, which achieved $38.4 million. A total of seven new world auction records were established, including those for Cindy Sherman, Cy Twombly and cutting-edge contemporary artist, Urs Fischer, whose Untitled (Lamp/Bear), realized $6.8 million – six times the artist’s previous world auction record. The sale results reflects Christie’s mission to distinguish itself in offering buyers major objects with fair estimates, underscored by a superior responsibility to the works of art themselves.”

Astounding prices were achieved for works by Andy Warhol, as all eight works of the artist’s works offered were sold for a combined total of $90.9 million. Most notably Christie’s established a new world auction record for a portrait by Warhol with the evening’s top lot, Self-Portrait 1963-1964, which realized $38.4 million. The work was finally sold after a riveting 16-minute competition between bidders in the room and on the phone.

Significant prices were also achieved for, Mark Rothko, whose rediscovered Abstract Expressionist masterpiece from 1961, Untitled No. 17, realized $33.6 million and another for Warhol whose 1986 Self Portrait, depicting himself in signature Fright Wig rendered in a shock of Pop Red against a black background realized $27.5 million.

In total, seven world auction records were achieved including those for Cy Twombly, whose Untitled from 1967 realized $15,202,500; Urs Fischer for Untitled (Lamp/Bear) which achieved, $6.8 million; Richard Diebenkorn, for Ocean Park No. 121, from 1980 which brought in $7.6 million and Anselm Kiefer, whose Dem Unbekannten Maler (To the Unknown Painter) from 1983 realized $3.5 million.

In a landmark for contemporary photography, the sale of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled color coupler print from her 1981 Centerfold series was not only a world auction record for Sherman, but represents a new world auction record for any photograph.

Overall, two lots sold over $30 million, four lots sold above $20 million, five lots sold above $10 million, 14 sold over $5 million and 52 sold over $1 million. Buyers (by lot / by origin) were 61 percent American, 23 percent European, 3 percent Asian and 13 percent from other countries.

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