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Christie's: Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale (NY) Auction Analysis

  • Christie's New York
  • Christie's New York
May 14, 2015

As it was expected, Christie’s Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale (NY) auction was the night full of world records: 14 of them have been broken on Thursday evening, on May 13 – 8 for the artists and 6 for the medium. However, the total of $658,532,000 (including buyers’ premium) was far from breaking Christie’s own record set last year for total money gathered in one auction ($852.9 million, including buyers’ premium). Nevertheless, this was an incredible, historic night at Christie’s, with fourth highest result ever achieved at an auction. Mark Rothko’s No. 10 led the way, with $73 million hammer price.

The Story About the Painting: Mark Rothko’s No. 10 (1958)

No. 10, an almost eight feet tall painting, was executed at the peak of Rothko’s career. It was made with basic artistic materials (canvas, oil and pigment), and the word that many use to describe it is energy. Rothko wanted to viewers experience almost religious feelings while standing in front of his paintings, and by using multiple layers of similar tone, he produced a piece of art that – almost literally – distributes a radiant heat, filled with energy and power, energy that warms up the room. In his own words, his pictures of that period were involved “with the scale of human feelings and drama”, and the size of the canvas is directly translated into feelings that the picture induces: large pictures equals drama and large involvement of the viewer.

Please, scroll down to find some interesting information on this historic auction, and to find out more on most distinguished artworks.

  • Christie's New York

The Overview of Christie's: Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale (NY)

There were 85 lots at Christie’s Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale, and 72 of them changed owners, which was good for 84.7 percent. We’ve mentioned $658.5 million, but this number was with buyers’ premium – without it, auction at Christie’s netted $578.7 million, while the total sum of high estimates for sold lots was $590.6 million. One third of sold lots (24) were sold over high estimate, and 34 more was sold in range of estimated values. It needs to be noted that three lots (Mark Rothko’s No. 10, Andy Warhol’s Colored Mona Lisa and Francis Bacon’s Portrait of Henrietta Moraes) didn’t have high and low estimated values before the auction, and estimated value for each of them was announced after the auction. Average hammer price was $8.04 million, and median hammer was $3.6 million.

Now, about the records: eight artists had their world record auction, led by Lucian Freud ($50 million), Robert Ryman ($18.25 million), Robert Rauschenberg ($16.5 million) and Giovanni Anselmo ($5.6 million) – the other new record holders are Hans Hofmann, Sturtevant, Rudolf Stingel and Carroll Dunham. Six more records were broken for medium – Pollock for a work on paper, Dubuffet for a sculpture, Warhol for a work on paper (Dollar Bill, $4.6 million), Jeff Koons for a painting (Triple Elvis, $7.5 million), and Wool and Lichtenstein for work on paper.

Christie's New York
Jean-Michel Basquiat – The Field Next To The Other Road, 1981 (Lot 55 B) (Estimated at $25,000,000 – $35,000,000. Sold for $33,000,000)
Christie's New York
Cy Twombly – Untitled, 1969 (Lot 43 B) (Estimated at $35,000,000 – $55,000,000. Sold for $38,000,000)
Christie's New York
Robert Ryman – Bridge, 1980 (Lot 38 B) Estimated at $10,000,000 – $15,000,000. Sold for $18,250,000)
Christie's New York
Lucian Freud – Benefits Supervisor Resting, 1994 (Lot 31 B) (Estimated at $30,000,000 – $50,000,000. Sold for $50,000,000. This painting broke its own auction record for the artist, surpassing Christie’s sale from 2008, when it was sold for $33,641,000)
Christie's New York
Jean Dubuffet – Pleurnichon, 1954 (Lot 18 B) (Estimated at $250,000 – $350,000. Sold for $1,000,000. It almost had hammer price that was three times higher than its high estimate, with +185.7 percent difference)

Christie's New York
Andy Warhol – Colored Mona Lisa, 1963 (Lot 26 B) (Estimated at $35,000,000, sold for $50,000,000. This lot had the second highest price of the evening and it was bought by Larry Gagosian)
Christie's New York
Giovanni Anselmo – Torsione, 1968 (Lot 1 B) (Estimated at $600,000 – $800,000. Sold for $5,600,000. This Anselmo’s work was the most successful when we speak of difference between estimated value and hammer price – it was sold for 7 times more than its high estimate.)
Christie's New York
Andy Warhol – Reel Basquiat, 1984 (Lot 63 B) (Estimated at $4,000,000 – $6,000,000. Sold for $3,400,000. This Warhol’s painting had -15 percent difference between its hammer price and low estimate)
Christie's New York
Robert Rauschenberg – Johanson’s Painting, 1961 (Lot 10 B) (Estimated at $4,000,000 – $6,000,000. Sold for $16,500,000. It had third best difference between hammer price and high estimate, with +175 percent difference)
Christie's New York
Mark Rothko – No. 10, 1958 (Lot 35 B) (Estimated at $45,000,000, sold for $73,000,000)
  • Christie's New York

Christie's: Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale (NY) Auction in Details

In next two charts, you could find out the details of every single lot that was auctioned at record-breaking Post War & Contemporary Evening Sale (NY) at Christie’s.

Total number of lots:85
Number of sold lots:72
Sold lots [%]:84.7
Total [$]:578680000
Number of sold lots over high estimate:24
Over high estimate (Total) [%]:28.2
Over high estimate (Sold) [%]:33.3
Number of sold lots in range of estimated values:34
In range of estimated values (Sold) [%]:47.3
Number of sold lots under low estimate:14
Under low estimate (Sold) [%]:19.4
Results were under estimate spread of [%]:25.6
Max Hammer [$]:73000000
Average Hammer [$]:8037222
Median Hammer [$]:3600000
Median Hammer Average Hammer Difference [%]:-55.2
Lot No.Artist NameArtwork NameLow Estimate $High Estimate $Hammer Price $Hammer High Estimate Difference [%]Hammer Low Estimate Difference [%]
1 BGiovanni AnselmoTorsione6000008000005600000600833.3
2 BRobert RymanUntitled8000001200000140000016.775
3 BRobert RymanUntitled800000120000013000008.362.5
4 BJasper JohnsTarget200000030000002000000-33.30
5 BMichelangelo PistolettoLa Stufa di Oldenburg10000001500000170000013.370
6 BAndy WarholFlowers15000002500000360000044140
7 BAndy WarholFive Campbell's Soup Cans120000018000001400000-22.216.7
8 BAndy WarholSmall Campbell's Soup Can (Tomato) [Ferus Type]600000090000007200000-2020
9 BRoy LichtensteinCeramic Sculpture 13300000400000380000-526.7
10 BRobert RauschenbergJohanson's Painting4000000600000016500000175312.5
11 BJim DineShoes Walking on My Brain15000025000030000020100
12 BJasper JohnsFlag4000006000007800003095
13 BAndy WarholThe Kiss (Bela Lugosi)300000050000003600000-2820
14 BGilbert & GeorgeRaining Gin40000060000068000013.370
15 BJohn BaldessariHorizontal Men (With One Luxuriating)400000600000600000050
16 BRobert RauschenbergCalendar300000050000002300000-54-23.3
17 BGilbert & GeorgeCherry Blossom No 5100000015000001050000-305
18 BJean DubuffetPleurnichon2500003500001000000185.7300
19 BCarroll DunhamFourth Birch150000200000420000110180
20 BAndy WarholQuadrant Mickey Mouse300000050000003900000-2230
21 BWayne ThiebaudInterchange25000003500000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
22 BAdrian GheniePie Fight Interior 9800000120000013000008.362.5
*23 BFrancis BaconPortrait of Henrietta Moraes30000000300000004250000041.741.7
24 BGerhard RichterKind (Child)600000080000006200000-22.53.3
25 BRoy LichtensteinCollage for Interior: Perfect Pitcher15000002500000380000052153.3
*26 BAndy WarholColored Mona Lisa35000000350000005000000042.942.9
27 BAndy WarholFragile–Handle With Care70000009000000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
28 BJackson PollockUntitled18000002200000300000036.466.7
29 BArshile GorkyStudy for Good Afternoon, Mrs Lincoln12000001800000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
30 BCy TwomblyUntitled2500000350000038000008.652
31 BLucian FreudBenefits Supervisor Resting300000005000000050000000066.7
32 BJean DubuffetImpair et Amble12000001800000260000044.4116.7
33 BJoan MitchellAfternoon500000070000005000000-28.60
34 BAlexander CalderUntitled600000090000005100000-43.3-15
*35 BMark RothkoNo 1045000000450000007300000062.262.2
36 BHans HofmannAuxerre400000060000005500000-8.337.5
37 BDavid SmithAgricola IV500000070000005200000-25.74
38 BRobert RymanBridge10000000150000001825000021.782.5
39 BWillem de KooningUntitled V1000000015000000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
40 BJoan MitchellBergerie500000070000004800000-31.4-4
41 BYayoi KusamaUntitled200000030000002600000-13.330
42 BAndy WarholOne Dollar500000070000004600000-34.3-8
43 BCy TwomblyUntitled350000005500000038000000-30.98.6
44 BCy TwomblyUntitled2500000350000042000002068
45 BFranz KlineSteeplechase180000002200000019000000-13.65.6
46 BAlexander CalderSpherical Triangle (maquette)12000001800000950000-47.2-20.8
47 BWillem de KooningUntitled X700000090000007600000-15.68.6
48 BBrice MardenBlue Horizontal9000000120000009000000-250
49 BFranz KlineProvincetown II8000000120000008000000-33.30
50 BArshile GorkyUntitled (Pastoral)50000007000000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
51 BMark RothkoUntitled350000045000003400000-24.4-2.9
52 BWayne ThiebaudTie Rack400000060000003500000-41.7-12.5
53 BTom WesselmannSmoker #2230000005000000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
54 BAndy WarholGun9000000120000009000000-250
55 BJean-Michel BasquiatThe Field Next to the Other Road250000003500000033000000-5.732
56 BAndy WarholDollar Sign750000085000007700000-9.42.7
57 BMartin KippenbergerUntitled150000002000000014500000-27.5-3.3
58 BJeff KoonsLouis XIV10000000150000009500000-36.7-5
59 BSturtevantWarhol Diptych300000050000004400000-1246.7
60 BChristopher WoolUntitled1500000020000000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
61 BJeff KoonsTriple Elvis700000090000007500000-16.77.1
62 BJean-Michel BasquiatEarly Moses65000008500000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
63 BAndy WarholReel Basquiat400000060000003400000-43.3-15
64 BCindy ShermanUntitled Film Still #48250000035000002500000-28.60
65 BMark GrotjahnUntitled (Yellow White Face Cut Out Eyes Green Iris II 4114)2500000350000036000002.944
66 BChristopher WoolUntitled200000030000002000000-33.30
67 BJeff KoonsNew Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers500000070000005000000-28.60
68 BChristopher WoolUntitled600000090000006000000-33.30
69 BEd RuschaWhiz Kids350000055000003600000-34.52.9
70 BAndy WarholRorschach600000080000005600000-30-6.7
71 BJeff KoonsJim Beam - JB Turner Engine250000035000003200000-8.628
72 BTakashi MurakamiTime Bokan-Pink700000900000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
73 BDavid HammonsUntitled8000001200000750000-37.5-6.3
74 BMark BradfordGhost Money15000002000000310000055106.7
75 BAndy WarholRorschach350000045000003300000-26.7-5.7
76 BMark RothkoWine, Rust, Blue on Black250000035000002700000-22.98
77 BCy TwomblyUntitled45000006500000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
78 BPhilip GustonOchre Painting I10000001500000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
79 BRudolf StingelUntitled25000003500000410000017.164
80 BGerhard RichterOhne Titel (5 Mai 1986)35000005500000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
81 BChristopher WoolUntitled200000030000002800000-6.740
82 BVija CelminsBlackboard Tableau #8 (Edward)8000001200000820000-31.72.5
83 BDonald JuddUntitled (Bernstein 74-9)8000001200000Not SoldNot SoldNot Sold
84 BJean-Michel BasquiatJob Analisis350000045000003200000-28.9-8.6
85 BJeff KoonsBalloon Monkey Wall Relief (Blue)8000001200000800000-33.30
TOTAL (Sold lots):442350000590600000578680000-230.8

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All images courtesy of Christie’s.