Gavel banging for the 1%

The spring Post War and Contemporary Art auction is about to be sprung at Christie’s. I present to you my semi-annual post of jaw-dropping and head-scratching multimillion dollar offerings. Here’s proof positive that judging art is, at best, a subjective sport and that beauty truly is in the eye, and the pocketbook, of the beholder. These works are not for you or I to consider owning. We are left to wonder what it would be like to have this kind of discretionary income. If nothing else, these auctions serve to reiterate a point we’ve known all along—that wealth is not a barometer of good taste. I ran down on my lunch hour and took these pics. Check back on Wednesday and I’ll post the prices realized for each lot.

I’ll start off with the works that I like. The estimates are uniformly insane for ALL these lots. I can’t imagine what I’d do with an extra $15 mil but I wouldn’t blow it any of these. However, if I were to bid at this auction, these are the works I’d raise my paddle on. Feel free to disagree but remember, this is my sandbox.

I like Andy Warhol. I always have (see banner up top). He’s fun! The photo doesn’t do this painting justice. The flowers are so bright that they’re almost luminescent. A fantastic piece. Flowers. Est. $800,000 – $1,200,000.

Sold for $1,202,500. See. I told you they were nice.

What do you suppose the guy who actually designed this Brillo soap pad box thinks about this? Warhol must be laughing is ass off. Brillo Soap Pads. Est. $400,000 – $600,000.

Sold for: $812,500.


Here’s one of Andy’s iconic soup cans. Cleverly titled Small Campbell’s Soup Can (Chili Beef). Est. (ready?) $5,000,000 – $7,000,000. It’s a SOUP CAN!

Sold for $7,362,500. It’s a SOUP CAN.


There are a few of Warhol’s celebrity portraits for sale. Here’s a painting of a very young Meryl Streep that was executed in 1984. Meryl Streep. Est. $900,000 – $1,200,000.

Meryl Streep: Did not sell. Poor Meryl.

This gargoyle is, believe it or not, Dolly Parton. Also pained in 1984. Dolly Parton. Est. $600,000 – $800,000. Totally worth it!

Sold for $626,500.

Every time I say I’m not a fan of Daimen Hirst I stumble across something by him that I really like. Have you seen the shark in the tank of formaldehyde? Or the skull with diamonds? They’re great! This beauty is vibrant, bright and alive. (Again, the photo is a miscarriage of justice.) But the really cool thing is…

…this piece is made from butterfly wings! What a pain in the ass this must have been! Eternal Life. Est. $550,000 – $750,000. Is that all!?

Sold for: $662,500.

There are a bunch of mobiles by Alexander Calder for sale. I love all of Calder’s stuff and can actually picture one of these hanging in my home. (Just so long as they’re hung far enough away from the snapping jaws of Coco.) On the left is Snow Flurry (Est. $3,500,000 – $4,500,000 and on the right is Untitled (Est. $3,000,000 – $4,000,000).
Snow Flurry sold for: $10,386,500. Well north of the high estimate.
Untitled sold for: $6,354,500. Ditto.

This is kind of the granddaddy of the show. It’s what greets you as soon as you walk in the gallery. Mark Rothko’s Orange, Red, Yellow. Est. $35,000,000 – $45,000,000. I really like it, although I’m not sure it’s worth $40 million bucks. That’s seems a bit excessive.
Sold for $86,882,500. BWWAAAA! Eighty-seven million dollars! Good thing they didn’t give that money to poor people They would have just wasted it on stupid stuff like tuition and shelter.

Jackson Pollock! Number 28, 1951! Est. $20,000,000 – $30,000,000! What do you think of that, bitches?
Sold for $23,042,500. I was knocked out of bidding early.

Display this beauty in your window and it’ll keep the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon Missionaries off your front lawn. You won’t have anyone for Halloween, either. Spider III by Louise Bourgeois. Est. $2,000,000 – $3,000,000. I remember she did a fantastic exhibit of gigantic spiders in Rockefeller Center a few years ago. They were so sinister looking  that I was a bit surprised they allowed it.
Sold for: $4,562,500. HER work did well. [For nursemyra.]

Here is a section of works that I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND. Again, this is all subjective and the fact that I can’t see the merit in these is utterly irrelevant. Especially to Christie’s. We’ll start with a real belly laugh. This is Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you by Urs Fischer. It’s a light bulb on a long cord that swings back and forth, accelerating and decelerating in a 12-minute cycle. Est. $300,000 – $400,000. The statue to the right is NOT part of this lot. that’s an entirely separate piece. That’s also by Mr. Fischer. It’s Untitled (Standing), which is kind of dumb since he says it’s untitled but then calls it Standing. He must be a deep thinker, that one. The light you see at the top of the man’s head is a candle burning. Est. $700,000 – $1,000,000. Yeah, that’s right. One million dollars. It’s almost as shocking as paying $400,000 bucks for a bulb swinging on a cord. And those Ikea shelves on the left? That’s Untitled by Robert Gober. Est. $500,000 – $700,000. Suckers.
Untitled Standing sold for: $1,314,500.

Untitled (the Ikea shelves) Sold for: $782,500.

Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you

for: $266,500. Get yourself to Home Depot and you can put this one together for a lot less.

Cindy Sherman scares me just a bit. I can’t imagine hanging any of these in my home, although I have a friend in San Francisco who knows someone who has Sermans in their house. She said her friends try too hard to be irreverent. I recently attended the Sherman retrospective at MoMA. Something like that can have a profound effect on the monetary vale of an artist’s work. Everyone wants their taste validated by MoMA. The clown on the left is Untitled (#423). Est. $300,000 – $500,000. On the right is Untitled (#215). Est. $400,000 – $600,000.
Untitled (#423) sold for $578,500.

Untitled (#215) sold for $578,500. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown). Simply awful. Looking at his work makes me wonder if I’ll ever like art again. Est. $9,000,000 – $12,000,000. I’ll just die if it sells for that much. 

This piece either did not sell or was withdrawn. It’s just as well. It would have ruined my evening.

Warhol’s Basquiat on the right but up on the wall near the ceiling is Antony Gormley’s Stay. Two years ago there was a fantastic outdoor exhibit in Madison Square Park where he placed 31 of these statues along building ledges and roofs. While I admired that exhibit very much, I can’t imagine why anyone would hang one of these in their den, with his ridiculous uncircumcised penis dangling down at you. Est. $400,000 – $600,000. 
Sold for $422,500.

de Kooning. This guy is consistently bad, recent major sold-out retrospective at MoMA notwithstanding. Untitled I. How lazy. Give it a title! Est. $8,000,000 – $12,000,000. Another one that will make me hurl if it sells for that much.
Sold for: $14,082,500. Barf.