The Contemporary Art Evening Auction realised a final total of £69,461,000. The sale was led by Lucian Freud’s tender portrait of his lover Bernadine Coverley, pregnant at the time with their daughter Bella. The 1960-61 work was pursued by six bidders and sold for £16.1 million, more than £9 million above the pre-sale low estimate and a new record for an early painting by the artist.
New auction records were also established for Alberto Burri and Adrian Ghenie. The former’s 1959 work Sacco e Rosso achieved £9.1 million, almost twice the previous record established in 2014. Adrain Ghenie’s colossal Van-Gogh-inspired Sunflowers in 1937 soared above its pre-sale estimate of £400,000-600,000 selling for £3.1 million.
Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art London, commented after the sale:
“Tonight we saw a confident art market, punctuated by some real high-points and a depth of bidding. There was much debate about the market ahead of the sale, but in spite of the broader economy, tonight proved that collectors will always compete for works of outstanding quality and rarity.”
This February Sotheby's will present a selection of exceptional post-war and contemporary art masterpieces including outstanding works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, a rarely seen silver Electric Chair by Andy Warhol, and a vivacious landscape from Frank Auerbach's enigmatic corpus of Primrose Hill paintings. Fresh from Alberto Burri's critically acclaimed retrospective at the Guggenheim, the auction is punctuated by Burri's standout masterpiece Sacco e Rosso from circa 1959. This sale is also led by the extraordinarily beautiful portrait of Bernadine Coverley, Pregnant Girl, painted by the iconic British artist Lucian Freud in 1960-61. Other highlights include outstanding works by Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Adrian Ghenie, Ed Ruscha and Christopher Wool.