Just last night Sotheby’s Postwar and Contemporary Sale in New York brought in a total of $134,438,000 with only two lots left unsold. The sale easily surpassed Christie’s $74 million performance the night before and might signal a possible recovery for the art market.
While 59% of works sold for prices above their pre-sale estimates, the gem of the evening was Andy Warhol’s 200 One Dollar Bills which sold for $43,762,500 over an estimate of $8-12 million way above the $67.9-97.7 million pre-sale estimate.
Top lots included Large Torso (1974), an expressionistic bronze work by William de Kooning which sold to Houston dealer Robert Maclean for $6,130,500, a David Hockney painting which sold to Italian fashion designer Valentino for $5,485,500, Trinite-Champs-Elysees by Jean Debuffet which sold for $6,130,500 marking a new record for the artist and Orange, Red, Orange by Mark Rothko, a work which had not appeared on the market for more than 30 years, sold for $3.4 million.
Warhol clearly ruled the evening. The artist’s 20-inch-square Self-Portrait from 1965 sold to London jewelry magnate Laurence Graff for $6,130,500 well above the $1-1.5 million estimate. Untitled (Roll of Dollar Bills) from 1962 sold to international art dealer Larry Gagosian for $4,226,500 and was underbid by New York dealer Alberto Mugrabi. Warhol’s Tuna Fish Disaster was sold to Mugrabi for $1,202,500 below an estimate of $1.5-2million. An interesting reversal in fortune: a larger two-panel Tuna Fish Disaster estimated at $6-8 million had failed to sell the night before at Christie’s.
The star of the evening and of the season was none other than Warhol’s early silkscreen of 200 one- dollar bills, the artist’s favorite and most frequently produced commodity.