“There’s something slightly boastful wanting to own these things. And there’s a prevalent sense that this is also about asset gathering, not just collecting.”
Well, that’s the understatement of the year. I don’t imagine this post will get a lot of play, but I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. It was a record week at the spring Contemporary and Impressionist art auctions. Christie’s alone sold over $1 billion worth of art. As always, a splendid time was had by the 1%.
Alas, poor Vincent. Only sold one lousy painting his whole life. And that was to his brother. He’s doing okay now. This was a great piece. The blue was more vibrant than what you see here.
Vincent Van Gogh
L’Alle des Alyscamps
Estimate on Request, but believed to be +/- $40,000,000.
Sold for $66,300,000
Number 12, 1950
Sold for $18,282,000
Buste de Diego (Amenophis)
Sold for $12,794,000
Contemporary art snobs disparage the Impressionists as being about as challenging as a Hallmark greeting card. Well, screw them. I like it. Art snobs should remember: Impressionism is a gateway drug. A few years of these guys and the next thing you know you’re curious about the Pre-Raphaelites. In the comic strip Doonsbury, prototype slacker Zonker Harris won $23 million in the lottery and spent $1 million on a Monet. He hung it above his refrigerator but subsequently sold it to purchase a royal title in the British aristocracy.
Sold for $54,010,000
Dog (Three Works)
Sold for $1,690,000
Sold for $538,000
Sold for $394,000
You’ve got to hand it to Jeff Koons. He has a talent for making wealthy people look foolish. Three Hoovers in Plexiglas with fluorescent lights. The lot description said this was executed in 1980-1986. This took six years?!
New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers
Sold for $5,765,000
This Rothko was described as being unusually bright. That’s putting it mildly! Rothko’s color palate trends towards deathly earth tones. This was owned by Bunny Melon. Pronounce her name with a clenched jaw. You can’t get Waspier than that.
Untitled (Yellow and Blue)
Sold for $46,450,000
I’m posting this Mondrian right after a Rothko intentionally. Rothko famously fumed that, “I am not a formalist. I have no interest in Mondrian. My paintings do not deal in space. Mondrian divides a canvas; I put thing on it.”
Composition No. III with Red, Blue, Yellow and Black
Sold for: $50,565,000—a world record for a Mondrian
Spooky and rich. This feeds both my desire to own an Impressionist masterpiece and my bottomless pit of Anglophilia.
The Houses of Parliament at Sunset
Sold for $40,485,000
This Lichtenstein is thought to have missed the estimate because, believe it or not, it doesn’t contain one of his trademark comic book speech bubbles, which can add millions to a piece. WTF, art world?
The Ring (Engagement)
Estimate on Request, but thought to be around $50,000,000
Sold for $41,690,000
Estimate on Request
Sold for $28,250,000
Sold for $3,610,000
This O’Keeffe is being offered in the May 20th American Art auction but included it here because I think it’s magnificent. O’Keeffe was angry that people interpreted her flower paintings as female genitalia. That was never her intent.
White Calla Lily
I hadn’t intended to include this Rothko. I was afraid of Rothko-overkill and the photo doesn’t do it justice. This was hung in a side gallery. The lights were dim and there was a bench set in front of it. I sat down and realized there was also relaxing spa music playing at a barely-audible level. I got kind of lost in the canvas. I had an out-of-body experience, which is what I believed Rothko intended. It sold for an extraordinary amount of cash.
Estimate on request
Sold for $81,925,000
I showed this to a friend who’s an artist. He’s a master at watercolor. His comment was, “Nice flesh tones.” Well, that might be true but I couldn’t look at this hanging on my wall every day. Fun fact: Lucian Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud.
Benefits Supervisor Resting
Sold for $56,165,000
Sold for $905,000
Sold for $629,000
“Any size as suits the needs and desires of the receiver.”
Which, I guess, means Weiner comes to your house and paints this on a wall. Now, THERE’S a piece that can be easily forged.
Balls of Wood Balls of Iron
Sold for $185,000
This means when the auction is over and Christie’s paints that wall, they’re painting over a $185,000 “masterpiece.”
You are looking at $181,770,000 worth of art. I walked through this gallery with my backpack on. One false turn and you’d have read about me in the paper.
No. 36 (Black Stripe)
Sold for $40,485,000
L’homme au Doigt
Estimate on Request
Sold for $141,285,000