Robert McClain, an art adviser, when asked what he thought of the big numbers paid for the evening’s Pop Art, replied, “Never overestimate people’s willingness to pay a premium for the obvious.” .
NEW YORK CITY – For the second night in a row, collectors from around the globe dropped millions of dollars for blue-chip American contemporary artists, paying record-breaking prices at Christie’s on Wednesday for brand names like Franz Kline, Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Richard Diebenkorn.In two and a half hours of relentless bidding, the auction brought in $412.2 million, just above its high $411.8 million estimate and the highest total ever for a contemporary art auction at Christie’s (as well as the second-highest total ever for any auction there; the highest, $491.5 million, was made by a sale of Impressionist and modern art in 2006.) The auction also brought significantly more than Sotheby’s sale of contemporary art on Tuesday night, which itself made the highest total for any sale in Sotheby’s history, $375.1 million. Christie’s had clues that it had a blockbuster on its hands several days before the auction. In addition to a great deal of interest in the sale from collectors around the world, Brett Gorvy, chairman of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department worldwide, said there had been a record number of requests for sky boxes — those invitation-only spaces secreted a floor above the salesroom, where the superrich can watch and bid without being seen.
By Carol Vogel, Nov. 14, 2012 NYT
Untitled by Jean-Michel Basquiat: A richly painted image of a black fisherman displaying his catch, painted in 1981 by Basquiat, topped his record auction price, too, bringing $26.4 million, sailing above its $22 million high estimate.