It’s time, once again, for my semi-annual lunch hour trip to Christie’s to review a few choice lots from the upcoming Impressionist & Modern Art sale. Here’s a cavalcade of outrageously expensive works whose quality ranges from the sublime to the truly terrible. Remember, these pieces are passing from one private collector to another. In most cases, they haven’t been seen in public before and, after the auction, won’t be see again. They’ll hang above the mantle of a 1%-er in Aspen or Dubai or Beijing. As always, I’ll come back after the auction and post the prices realized. There’s lots of ground to cover so let’s get going. We’ll start off with this beauty by Mark Rothko.
No. 11 (Untitled). $25,000,000–35,000,000
Sold for $46,085,000
I’m dissatisfied with this photo. It doesn’t capture the painting’s vibrancy and movement. I must have stood in front of this thing, unblinking, for five minutes. It washed over me.
Our old pal, Andy Warhol, is here with a few pieces.
Sold for $3,525,000
Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined Version). $12,000,000–16,000,000
Sold for $13,045,000
I don’t see many Mao paintings coming up for auction and this one is particularly bright. The Mercedes piece is HUGE. I might be able to fit it in my garage but my living room is out of the question. One of Warhol’s grand jokes he played on the art world is here, too.
Brillo Soap Pads box. $700,000–1,000,000
Sold for 725,000
It’s a flippin’ box of soap pads. That’s all I ever see when I look at these. A+ Andy! You got em’ good that time! I call bullshit on this one. I don’t really understand this next one, either.
Sold for $57,285,000
I believe the stratospheric estimate might be because it’s from 1962 and, hence, very early in Warhol’s career. Perhaps it has both aesthetic and historic significance? I don’t know. I don’t see where the value lies. As long as I’m feeling feisty, here’s another real head-scratcher.
Have any of you ever heard of Christopher Wool?
Apocalypse Now. $15,000,000–20,000,000
Sold for $26,485,000
I’m going to confess that prior to reading about an exhibit of his work that just opened at the Guggenheim, I had never heard his name. The quote in the painting is from Apocalypse Now, hence the title. I don’t like it. It’s lazy and it leaves me cold. But SOMEONE must be paying attention. $15M ain’t cow feed.
Seductive Girl. $22,000,000–28,000,000
Sold for $31,525,000
That’s better. Lichtenstein. Seductive girl. I’ll say.
This is kind of an unusual Pollock.
Number 16. $25,000,000–35,000,000
Sold for $32,645,000
He usually didn’t go for those reds and teals. I like it. Not for thirty-five millions dollars, but I like it.
I have a love/hate relationship with Jeff Koons’ work. His sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles the Chimp is awful but I like his balloon dogs. They’re playful and dopey.
Balloon Dog (Orange). $35,000,000–55,000,000
Sold for $58,405,000
There are only five of these balloon dog sculptures. Each is a different color. This orange one is owned by newspaper magnate Peter Brant. Wall Street thief Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital owns the yellow one, although probably not for much longer. Heh. There are also versions in blue, magenta and red. The art world is not-so-quietly snickering at the $35–55M estimate. He who laughs last, etc.
Get ready to barf. I hope you’ve finished your lunch/breakfast/dinner.
Sold for $29,285,000
Jean-Michel Basquiat sucks eggs.
Sold for $1,925,000
Hideously ugly. I have tried over and over to understand what this guy was trying to do but I just don’t get it. I believe his work trades not on its merits, but on the cult of personality that arose after he ODed.
Untitled (Head of Madman). $7,000,000–9,000,000
Sold for $12,037,000
Even uglier than the first two, which didn’t seem possible. I wouldn’t give you seven bottle tops for this, much less $70,000 Benjamins.
Margaret Thatcher once called Francis Bacon “That horrible man.” That’s good enough for me!
Three Studies of Lucian Freud. Estimate on Request.
Sold for $142,405,000. Oh, my.
Holy shit. If some estimates run to the $35M range, how high is Estimate on Request?! Actually, I did some digging and they think it might sell for as much as $80,000,000. Can you imagine? Good thing they don’t give that money to poor people. They’d just waste it on stupid shit.
Details from Three Studies.
I like it. It’s a triptych, so you have to buy all three. You can’t just say, oh, I’ll take that middle one. You’d be surprised how much this actually does look like Lucian Freud. Fun fact: Freud was Sigmund Freud’s grandson and a great artist in his own right.
I guess it wouldn’t be a proper Impressionist auction without a Monet. This is a fine example, don’t you think?
Entreé de Giverny en hiver, soleil couchant. $5,000,000–8,000,000
Sold for $5,205,000
I don’t really dig Giacometti’s paintings and drawings, but his sculptures are killer.
Femme Debout (Figurine). $2,500,000–3,500,000
Sold for $5,429,000
Here’s a painting by William de Kooning, an overrated hack if ever there was one.
Untitled VIII. $20,000,000–30,000,000
Sold for $32,085,000
Just look at that mess. I told one of the security guards that I’m pretty sure it’s hung upside down. Could you live with that? Could you live with anything that guy did?
I heard a clinking clanking sound off in the corner of the gallery. I traced it to this sculpture by Jean Tinguely:
Sold for $75,000
It’s kind of interesting to watch for a minute or two but if you had this thing sitting on a coffee table or kitchen counter at home, it would drive you mad.
Some people think Edward Hopper is kind of pedestrian but, man, I love him. And this painting, especially.
East Wind Over Weehawken. $22,000,000–28,000,000
It reminds me of the old neighborhood back on the near west side of Cleveland where my grandmother lived. Again, the photo doesn’t do justice to the painting. Funny thing…the title card with the description and auction estimate also stated “Do Not Touch.” I don’t recall ever seeing that on a title card before.
I’M TOUCHING YOUR PAINTING!
I’M TOUCHING YOUR PAINTING!
I’M TOUCHING YOUR PAINTING!