Losers of Summer Auctions 2015: 9 Sales Well Below Low Estimate Hammers

Collectors' Tip, Top Lists

July 31, 2015

When we talk about major auction sales around the world, we usually tend to focus on those whose hammer prices go through the roof at houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips and more. But what about those artworks which fail to stay within the estimated price range - let alone reach their high estimates? It is these pieces exactly that we will talk about in this article, and most of them were sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction, held in New York City on June 10th. Big losses were also a part of sales like the Cornette de Saint Cyr – Prints and Multiples Auction in Paris from June 15th, the Phillips Evening & Day Editions in London from June 11th, and the Dreweatts – Out of the Box: Contemporary Art Since 1990 sale, held in London on June 30th. Among the disappointing artists are some very known names, so be sure to scroll down and check out the 9 Sales that went well beyond their low estimates.

Yi Chen - Invisible Veil No. 2

An oil on canvas titled Invisible Veil No. 2 by New York-based Chinese artist Yi Chen was the lot 388 at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction. Estimated between$2,500 and $3,500, it was expected to go well. Only, it didn’t. With a low estimate difference of -90%, the work was sold for $250, becoming this auction’s winner of the bottom side. The painting was originally bought from Marianne Bosky Gallery in New York, where the artist had a solo exhibition back in 2006. Yi Chen’s art deals with the notions of beauty in today’s society, and his paintings and collages often depict distorted portraits of women.

Ovidiu Maitec - Portes

A work by the esteemed Romanian sculptor Ovidiu Maitec reached an incredible price of $6 - yes, $6 - at the Cornette de Saint Cyr Prints and Multiples auction in Paris. Although the estimates for the 1991 resin piece Portes weren’t much either (low was $56, high was $67), it is still hard to believe anyone’s work could be sold for a one-digit price. Ovidiu Maitec was a member of the Romanian Academy and the holder of the Star of Romania National Order. Many of his sculptures can be found in public places across Romania and in major national museums and galleries, including Tate Gallery in London.

Bryan Hunt - Rite Of Spring

Back at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale, another downfall by almost 90% - Bryan Hunt’s Rite Of Spring painting, offered at lot 271. Sold for $400, it was meant to reach somewhere between $2,500 and $3,500. Bryan Hunt is an artist known for his sculptures, many of which are located at public places like One World Trade Center in New York and Barcelona’s Parc du Clot. His interest in architecture and space exploration began after he worked at the Kennedy Space Center in his teens, during the famous NASA mission which took the man on the moon. His work is part of the world’s most important private and public art collections.

Mark Innerst - Signs On Buildings

Expected to achieve no more than $5,000 and no less than $3,000, the acrylic, watercolor and pencil on paper work by artist Mark Innerst managed to sell for $700 only. This was a surprise, especially since in 2006, Sotheby’s sold his South of Broadway artwork for $22,800. Mark Innerst is an American artist known for his modernist paintings of New York City, often depicting the skyscrapers as thick vertical lines. Such us the case with Signs On Buildings as well, in which we see almost monochromatic buildings with red letters written on them. The works of Mark Innerst have been exhibited in many important museums and galleries worldwide.

Jackie Ferrara - Arrakis Blue

One more of Jackie Ferrara’s trademark pyramidal sculptures was offered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale. The 1986 piece titled Arrakis Blue is made of stained pine and poplar wood with nails, and it contained a dedication “For Frank Herbert”. The work’s price ranges between $4,000 and $6,000, but its final hammer price of $1,100 saw the low estimate difference of -75%. Jackie Ferrara’s post-Minimalist art draws inspiration from geometric forms and the temple architecture of Egypt and Mesoamerica. She has created both large-scale and model works in wood, concrete and steel.

Brad Kahlhamer - Rebia R.C.

Lot 344 offered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction with under-low estimate difference was the 2007 ink and watercolor on paper titled Rebia R.C. by artist Brad Kahlhamer. With -81,7%, the work was sold for $1,100, having previously been estimated at $4,000 low and $6,000 high. The artwork follows the artist’s artistic style rooted in Abstract Expressionism and Native American Art, combining his experience in music and art. Brad Kahlhamer also creates sculptures, musical pieces and performance art pieces. His works can be found in collections by MoMA and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.

Artists Space Annual Edition Portfolios

An amazing body of work featuring five Artists Space Annual Edition Portfolios from 2010 to 2014 was offered at Phillips Evening & Day Editions sale in London. Containing 28 artworks in various mediums (including artists’ box each), by 31 artists including Wolfgang Tillmans, Anne Collier, Cory Arcangel and Claire Fontaine, the portfolios were offered for a price going from $4,646 and $7,743, but in the end, it achieved $1,394, with -70% low estimate difference. The portfolios were published by Artists Space in New York, whose 2015 Annual Edition Portfolio will include specially commissioned works by five artists.

Tracey Emin - Ipad Drawings (Five Works)

It’s no surprise anymore when artists adopt new technologies to make art, and when it comes to iPads, it’s something David Hockney is mastering his skills at. When she can’t sleep at night, Tracey Emin also lets her creativity burst, using an app on her iPad. She describes these works as “very different from my usual style”, and five of them were offered Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated sale, between $5,000 and $7,000. The five iPad drawings, which came as inkjet prints, dated 2013 and stamped with Emin International on the reverse, sold for only $1,600. Turns out no one is safe when it comes to bad sales, not even someone as recognized as Tracey Emin.

Suling Wang - Untitled

Finally, we have the 2005 Untitled acrylic with ink on paper by the renowned Chinese painter and contemporary artist Suling Wang, sold at the Dreweatts – Out of the Box: Contemporary Art Since 1990 auction in London. The work was old with -66.7 percent difference between hammer price of $3,120 and low estimate of $9,361, while the high estimate was as much as $12,481. Suling Wang is known mostly for her large-scale abstract works, often featuring cartoon-like forms and calligraphy inspired by her homeland Taiwan’s oral tradition from her childhood, as well as Eastern and Western cultures in general.

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