LONDON - Acquired over decades of travel by a single collector, the property offered over three days in the ‘Bear Witness’ auction featured major works by the pioneers of post-war and contemporary art alongside countless artefacts, curiosities and objets d’art. From Warhol, Hirst and Rothko to Renaissance-era marble skulls and 19th-century theatrical props, this remarkable collection, guided by the unique passions of the collector, is unified by two recurring motifs – the bear and the skull.
The Bear Witness exhibition at Sotheby's London galleries.
“The huge excitement generated throughout the week by our extraordinary “Bear Witness” exhibition carried straight through into tonight’s sale,” said Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s London. Indeed the pre-sale estimate had already been surpassed after the first session on 10 March when collectors drove the first-session total to £26.5 million ($40 million). When all was said and done, over 1000 collectors helped drive the bidding fervor. Mark Rothko’s Untitled (1968) led the three-day sale series, selling for £3.4 million ($5.1 million), outperforming its presale high estimate.
Works by Andy Warhol also highlighted the Evening sale on Tuesday with no fewer than nine works by the artist finding buyers. Among them, Dollar Sign, that iconic symbol of Warhol’s fascination with money, sold well beyond its presale estimate, finding a buyer for £383,000 ($578,138).
The three-day sale series brought a total £36.1 million ($54.1 million).