LONDON - The Contemporary Art Evening auction in London totalled £93.1 million, exceeding its presale high estimate of £89.7 million on the stength of works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Peter Doig.
The highlight of the Contemporary Art Evening sale was undoubtedly Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer (On Light Ground), which sold for £26.7 million ($44.8 million) after a dramatic telephone bidding war. The triptych was particularly sought after as it was painted in 1964, within the first year of Bacon’s meeting his lover and frequent sitter George Dyer. The studies are based on photographs taken by John Deakin, a well-known photographer whom Bacon commissioned to take pictures of his entourage. Bidding was also brisk for a portrait of another of Bacon’s lovers Peter Lacy, Study for Portrait of P.L, No. I, which sold for £4.5 million ($7.5 million), exceeding its presale high estimate, as did his 1957–58 canvas (Seated Man), which brought for £2.1 million ($3.5 million).
Peter Doig’s Country-rock (wing mirror) sold for £8.5 million ($14.4 million) the record for a work by the artist at auction. As if glimpsed from a car window, Doig’s view of a roadside landscape interrupted by an underpass painted with a rainbow (an actual site in Toronto) is a poignant mediation on memory. The record price speaks to the work’s impeccable provenance (it was acquired in 1999, the year of its completion) as well as its status as one of Doig’s most enduring images.
Opening the sale on a strong note, ten of the eleven lots from Ahead of the Curve: The Sender Collection found buyers. Among the high-performing works was Damien Hirst’s Kingdom of Heaven, which sold for £1.1 million ($1.8 million), soaring past its high estimate. The continued success of the Adam Sender property, following previous offerings in New York and London, speaks to the collector’s extraordinary eye for contemporary art.