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Bonhams: Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction Analysis

  • Bonhams New York
  • Bonhams New York
May 14, 2015

On Tuesday, May 12, at Bonhams New York, a modestly successful Post-War & Contemporary Art took place. It was a small auction, with 33 lots of selected artworks over the last 70 years – from 1940(-ish) to 2007. The complete sale managed that around two-thirds of exhibited lots change owners, and for more money that was initially expected. And while Alexander Calder’s work The Mountain from 1960 (Lot 6) was sold for the biggest amount, Robert Indiana‘s Love was the most successful lot of the auction, as it more than doubled its high estimate.

The Story About the Artwork: Robert Indiana’s Love (1965)

Indiana’s Love was executed in 1965, and almost immediately won the hearts of audience. It became somewhat of an icon of American pop culture, and it was the artwork that elevated Robert Indiana’s career, who became one of the first Pop artists. Just seven years after it was made, the U.S. Postal Service issued an eight-cent LOVE stamp, designed by the artist, and 330 million of them were produced. Indiana’s work was a perfect fit for the whole movement of free love that induced the sexual revolution in the sixties. The success of the painting surprised Robert Indiana himself – as he said later, he wasn’t even thinking about the love generation and hippies. The simplicity and power of this and other Indiana’s works influenced many contemporary artist – Christopher Wool, Tracey Emin, Yoshitomo Nara and Jenny Holzer.

  • Bonhams New York

The Overview of Bonhams: Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction

We have decided to stir things up a bit, so from now on, in our auction analyses, when you take a look at images of lots that are just bellow this text, you will immediately find out information of its estimated value and hammer price – hope you’ll like this. As for Post-War & Contemporary Art auction at Bonhams, out of those 33 lots, 21 was sold, or 63.6 percent. The auction gathered almost $2.9 million, and the sum of high estimates for sold lots was just bellow $2.8 million, so this will give you a hint of a pretty solid auction, when it comes to money. The highest hammer price had the mentioned Calder’s work The Mountain, which was sold for $700,000 – average hammer price $87,424, while hammer price median was $25,000 (this means that the same number of lots were sold for more than $25,000 and for less than $25,000). The difference between average hammer price and median was -71.4 percent, which means that many more lots were sold bellow this auction’s average price than above it, but those several lots that scored big, molded this final average hammer price.

We’ve mentioned Calder’s and Indiana’s work, and several more were notable at Bonhams: Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square: Suspended, Andy Warhol’s Heaven and Hell Are Just One Breath Away (Positive and Negative), and two works by Victor Vasarely – OND-III and Attam. On the other hand, Richard Stankiewicz’s Untitled, Richard Pettibone’s Jasper Johns ‘Shade’, 1959 and Sol LeWitt’s Incomplete Open Cube underperformed, and Jean-Paul Riopelle’s Untitled (Lot 30) was the highest priced lot that wasn’t sold (estimated at $150,000 – $200,000).

Bonhams New York
Alexander Calder – The Mountain, 1960 (Lot 6) (Estimated at $600,000 – $800,000. Sold for $700,000)
Bonhams New York
Andy Warhol – Heaven And Hell Are Just One Breath Away (Positive And Negative), 1985 (Lot 15) (Estimated at $200,000 – $300,000. Sold for $230,000)
Bonhams New York
Josef Albers – Homage To The Square – ‘Suspended’, 1953 (Lot 17) (Estimated at $300,000 – $500,000. Sold for $400,000)
Bonhams New York
Robert Indiana – Love, 1965 (Lot 5) (Estimated at $150,000 – $250,000. Sold for $540,000)
Bonhams New York
Victor Vasarely – OND-III, 1968 (Lot 28) (Estimated at $80,000 – $120,000. Sold for $205,000)
Bonhams New York
Victor Vasarely – Attam, 1979 (Lot 27) (Estimated at $40,000 – $60,000. Sold for $125,000)
Bonhams New York
Richard Stankiewicz – Untitled, 1972 (Lot 23) (Estimated at $20.000 – $30,000. Sold for $18,000)
Bonhams New York
Richard Pettibone – Jasper Johns ‘Shade’, 1959, 1967 (Lot 21) (Estimated at $10,000 – $15,000. Sold for $9,000)
  • Bonhams New York

Bonhams: Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction in Details

Please, scroll down to find out more about each lot that was auctioned at Bonhams: Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction – find out their estimated values, hammer prices and find out which lots weren’t sold.

Total number of lots:33
Number of sold lots:21
Sold lots [%]:63.6
Total [$]:2885000
Number of sold lots over high estimate:8
Over high estimate (Total) [%]:24.2
Over high estimate (Sold) [%]:38.1
Number of sold lots in range of estimated values:10
In range of estimated values (Sold) [%]:47.6
Number of sold lots under low estimate:3
Under low estimate (Sold) [%]:14.3
Results were under estimate spread of [%]:31.3
Max Hammer [$]:700000
Average Hammer [$]:87424
Median Hammer [$]:25000
Median Hammer Average Hammer Difference [%]:-71.4
Lot No.Artist NameArtwork NameLow Estimate $High Estimate $Hammer Price $Hammer High Estimate Difference [%]Hammer Low Estimate Difference [%]
1Alexander CalderUntitled3000050000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
2Alexander CalderUntitled25000350004700034.388
3Joseph CornellCarrousel6000080000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
4Studio Of Willem De KooningLeda and the Swan: Sitting, Standing and Reclining120000180000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
5Robert IndianaLOVE150000250000540000116260
6Alexander CalderThe Mountain600000800000700000-12.516.7
7ChristoRunning Fence (Project for Sonoma County and Marin County, State of California)500007000050000-28.60
8Alex KatzMaine Woods2000030000320006.760
9Andy WarholHermann Hesse2000030000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
10Tom WesselmannStudy for Bedroom Painting #42500007000065000-7.130
11Keith HaringUntitled100000150000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
12Keith HaringUntitled500007000050000-28.60
13Jean-Michel BasquiatUntitled100000150000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
14Maurizio CattelanUntitled6000080000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
15Andy WarholHeaven and Hell Are Just One Breath Away (Positive and Negative)200000300000230000-23.315
16Louise NevelsonDark Star4000060000620003.355
17Josef AlbersHomage to the Square: Suspended300000500000400000-2033.3
18Bernard AubertinTableau Clous200003000022000-26.710
19Sol LewittIncomplete Open Cube10000150008000-46.7-20
20Robert MangoldUntitled3000050000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
21Richard PettiboneJasper Johns 'Shade', 195910000150009000-40-10
22Mark Di SuveroSioux600008000060000-250
23Richard StankiewiczUntitled200003000018000-40-10
24Frank StellaLejak50000700008200017.164
25Ken PriceTurning Green5000070000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
26Victor VasarelyHuitt4000060000750002587.5
27Victor VasarelyAttam4000060000125000108.3212.5
28Victor VasarelyOND-III8000012000020500070.8156.3
29Victor VasarelyTridim-C80000120000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
30Jean-Paul RiopelleUntitled150000200000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
31Jean-Paul RiopelleComposition700009000080000-11.114.3
32Paul JenkinsAn Elizabethan250003500025000-28.60
33Hermann NitschUntitled3000040000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
TOTAL (Sold lots):1910000279000028850003.451

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All images courtesy of Bonhams.