Sotheby's auction of Contemporary Art, November 2006 totals $135 million


November 14, 2006, New York, New York - Sotheby's evening sale of Contemporary Art brought $125,132,800 (est. $109.3/148.1 million*), the second highest total ever for the category at Sotheby's, and set a record for a masterpiece by Francis Bacon when Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe sold for $15,024,000 (est. $9/12 million) to an anonymous buyer. The painting was a cornerstone of the The Vanthournout Collection , a single-owner sequence of sculpture and paintings from a private collection in Belgium , which brought $42,146,400 (est. $25.9/35.3 million) and was 100% sold by lot and value. Fifteen artist records were achieved this evening, including those for Francis Bacon, Piero Manzoni, Anish Kapoor, Carl Andre, Robert Mangold, Dan Flavin, Isamu Noguchi, Barnaby Furnas and Joseph Albers.

Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, said: "We're thrilled with the result of this evening's sale, which was the second highest total for an evening sale of Contemporary Art in the company's history. There was very global bidding tonight, both American and European, and fifteen artist records were established."

Anthony Grant, Sotheby's international senior specialist of Contemporary Art, continued: "The market responded with broad-based support to our carefully-composed sale, with works by Pop, Minimalist, Abstract Expressionist and Arte Povera artists."

The Vanthournout Collection

Highlighting the Vanthournout Collection, which commanded $42,146,400 (est. $25.9/35.3 million) and was 100% sold by value and lot, was one of the Vanthournouts' earliest acquisitions, a Francis Bacon masterpiece, Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe, 1968, which sold for $15,024,000, a record for the artist at auction. This monumental painting was one of Bacon's first forays into the great proving ground of Western art: the reclining female nude. In Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe, the thrown-back arm, the long flowing hair and the riotous body manifest on its surface an inner turmoil as his expressive subject writhes in the grips of a very modern nightmare, a drug trip.

Property from Various Owners

Willem de Kooning's post-war canvas, Untitled XXX, 1977, one of the most sublime representations of the artist's mastery over paint, gesture and color, sold for $10,656,000 to an anonymous buyer (est. $7.5/9.5 million). Dynamically expressive, Untitled XXX captures the essence of the sea, sand and surf, focusing his energy on the paint's texture. His Hostess, executed in 1973, a bronze sculpture of the female form, was purchased for $3,936,000, a record for a sculpture by the artist at auction, by an American Private Collector (est. $4/6 million). One of the most accomplished sculptures the artist made, Hostess epitomizes a perfect extension of his painting into the solidity of a third dimension with its knotted, curling surface.

Jeff Koons' Ushering in Banality, a masterpiece from his 1988 Banality series in which he achieved a new sophistication in the dynamics of appropriation, sold for $4,048,000 to an American Private buyer (est. $3.2/3.8 million). The work, comprised of polychromed wood, comes from a series consisting of large wood and porcelain sculptures and ornately framed mirrors, and the quality of the finish of these pieces brings an elaborate and seductive irony to their appropriated sources.

Among the other highlights from the various-owners offering was Andy Warhol's Flowers, 1964, from his Flowers series, which sold for $6,848,000 to an anonymous buyer (est. $4/6 million). For this painting Warhol used a color photograph of six hibiscus blossoms printed in the June 1964 issue of Modern Photography. Warhol cropped and slightly altered the image to a square of four flowers to achieve a potent, crisp image that is instantly recognizable and easily manipulated through a myriad of variations.

Other works by Warhol included in the sale were Martinson Coffee, 1962, which sold for $3,824,000 to an American Private buyer (est. $2/3 million); like his Campbell's Soup Cans, elevates an ordinary supermarket product to the realm of high art. The cover lot of the sale, Warhol's Self-Portrait, 1964, a key development in the arching "narrative" of Warhol's persona, was purchased for $3,172,000 by an anonymous buyer (est. $3.5/4.5 million). It was one of ten works from his second series of the artist's self-portrait which demonstrates advancements in the artist's processes and thematic conception.

Lichtenstein's Black and White Sunrise, 1964, an early and classic example of the artist's return to realism by painting people and things, sold for $6,624,000 to an anonymous buyer (est. $6/8 million). With its immaculate finish, Black and White Sunrise is the epitome of his early hand-painted process that removed all expressive detail. Lichtenstein's Still Life with Lamp, 1976, achieved $3,040,000 (est. $2.5/3.5 million).

Works by younger artists commanded strong prices, and among them were Jenny Saville's Still, 2003, in which Saville paints herself in a state of total vulnerability, that achieved $1,024,000, a record for the artist at auction (est. $900,000/1.2 million), and Barnaby Furnas' first major painting to appear at auction, Heartbreak Ridge, 2002, a historic battle scene as depicted from a modern day multi-perspective, that sold for $520,000, also a record for the artist at auction (est. $400/600,000).

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