Sotheby's: Bear Witness Auction Analysis

March 14, 2015

As we announced last week, an exciting auction has been held from March 10 to March 12 at Sotheby's in London. Although Bear Witness auction didn't produce any eight-figure sale, as we hoped for, it did put up some great numbers. This was the three-day auction, and the most of auctioned and sold art works were contemporary art. As expected, the highest price achieved works of Mark Rothko, Ed Ruscha, Lucio Fontana and Gerhard Richter, but some lower-priced art works also did much better than it was expected before the auction.

Sotheby's
Gerhard Richter - Sternbild (Constellation), 1970 (Lot 17)

Sotheby's: Bear Witness - Overall Numbers

This auction at Sotheby's did excellent, when it comes to percentage of sold lots out of the total number. As we will count only contemporary art works, that were sold on first two days of the auction (March 10 & 11), all in all there was the total of 294 lots, and 235 were sold, or more than satisfying 79.9 percent. Also, 94 of those 235 were sold over the high estimated price (32 percent overall and 40 percent of sold ones). Almost identical was the number of sold lots in range of estimated values (93, or 39.6 percent of sold lots). The rest of 48 lots changed hands for the price that was under low estimated, or 29.8 percent. These 235 lots were sold for the total of $44.2 million, which was 1.1 percent less than the sum of high estimates ($44.7 million), but +41.1 percent difference on the sum of low estimates.

Sotheby's
Keith Haring - Untitled, 1984 (Lot 29)

Sotheby's
Edward Ruscha - I Can't Not Do That, 1998 (Lot 9)

The Winners of Sotheby's: Bear Witness

As we mentioned, works by Mark Rothko, Ed Ruscha, Lucio Fontana and Gerhard Richter had the biggest hammer prices of Bear Witness auction at Sotheby's. Mark Rothko's Untitled was sold for $4.51, which was a hair more than the high estimated price. Edward Rucha's I Can't Not Do That changed owners for $3.32 million, and had 24.1 percent difference between the hammer price and the high estimated price. Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale, Attesa was sold for $2.31, about $80,000 higher than the high estimated price, and Richter's Sternbild (Constellation) had +8.7 percent difference between the hammer price and the high estimated price with $1.94 million. Four more works (eight in total) were sold for seven-figures: Domenico Gnoli's Portrait De Louis T. ($1.76 million), another Richter's work Kleine Tür ($1.27 million), Sigmar Polke's Untitled ($1.23 million) and another Lucio Fontana's piece Concetto Spaziale, that was sold for $1.05 million. When it comes to the biggest difference between hammer prices and high estimates, the undisputed winner is Robert Gligorov's work XXX-RAY that was estimated at $1,488-$2,232, and was sold for $16,367, or with 633.3 percent difference. Igor Mitoraj's Orizzonte was estimated at $22,319-$29,758 and was sold for six times more - $184,749, or 520.8 percent difference. Franz West's Sitzskulptur was sold for almost $200,000 and was estimated at $44,637-$59,516 (235.4 percent), Chun Kwang-Young's Aggregation 04-NO054 was estimated at $11,903-$17,855 and went for three times more - $52,077, or 191.7 percent. Also, Andy Warhol's Clockwork Panda Drummer (From Toy Series) had 173.6 percent difference and was sold for $244,265.

Sotheby's
Roy Lichtenstein - Mobile I, 1989 (Lot 3)

The Not-So-Well of Sotheby's: Bear Witness

First of all, the lot with the highest estimated price that went unsold was Alberto Burri's Tutto Nero, which was estimated above seven figures: $1.04-$1.34 million. Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild also didn't change owners ($595,164-$892,746 was the estimated range). Among those that were sold, but lower than their low estimated price, Keith Haring's Untitled was estimated at $1.04-$1.34 million, and was sold for $631,122, or with -39.4 percent difference between the hammer price and the low estimated price. Only item that did worse was Katharina Fritsch's Totenkopf (Skull), which was sold with -40 percent difference.

Sign up now for My WideWalls and be up-to-date with contemporary and street art.

Scroll down to check out the detailed auction figures and images of lots from the auction.

Sotheby's
Sigmar Polke - Untitled, 1985 (detail) (Lot 14)

Sotheby's
Robert Gligorov - XXX-RAY, 1997 (Lot 337)

Sotheby's
Maurizio Cattelan - Hollywood, 2001 (Lot 48)

Sotheby's
Marina Abramovic - Carrying the Skeleton, 2008 (detail) (Lot 101)

Sotheby's
Luzio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, 1968 (detail) (Lot 11)

Sotheby's
Josef Albers - Study for Homage to the Square, R-III E.B.,1970 (detail) (Lot 4)

Sotheby's
Jean-Michel Basquiat - Untitled, 1985 (Lot 28)

Sotheby's
Domenico Gnoli - Portrait De Louis T., 1967 (detail) (Lot 12)

Sotheby's
Damien Hirst - Endless Love (Interrupted), 2006 (detail) (Lot 32)

Sotheby's
Chun Kwang-Young - Aggregation 04-NO054, 2004 (Lot 301)

Sotheby's
Anselm Kiefer - Am Anfang, 1998 (Lot 161)

Sotheby's
Andy Warhol - Playboy Bunny, 1985 (detail) (Lot 27)

Sotheby's
Andy Warhol - Clockwork Panda Drummer (From Toy Series) (detail) (Lot 2)

Follow These Artists

Igor Mitoraj

Follow These Galleries

Galeria Duque Arango

Medellín, Colombia