Auctioneer Oliver Barker at the rostrum for Jony and Marc’s (RED) Auction.
NEW YORK - Throughout November, visitors packed Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries as the greatest array of art, jewels and design objects in memory came together under one roof. Sale after sale made headlines, starting with the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening and Day auctions, which led the field in New York and achieved $348 million. Just a week later in Geneva, Sotheby’s brought in $200 million for Magnificent Jewels, the highest total for any jewellery auction ever. Incredibly, that evening in New York, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale came to $381 million, a company record. Add in the $94 million raised at the next day’s Contemporary Art Day sale, and do the math – over $1 billion dollars in art and jewels changed hands at Sotheby’s in less than 10 days.
Andy Warhol’s Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) sold for an artist record $105 million at the Contemporary Art Evening sale in New York.
Records were smashed for Andy Warhol, whose Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) went for $105 million, a new record for the artist, making him the only American to surpass the $100 million mark at auction. Along the way, an Alberto Giacometti bust sold for $50 million, a Cy Twombly 24-part work on paper sold for $22 million, and a Van Cleef & Arpels brooch brought $10.6 million.
Certainly these records, among many others, are a major part of the story. So too is the increasingly global nature of bidding: each of these auctions saw participation from more than 30 countries, driving the overall sell-through rate to a bullish 84%. But one of the biggest takeaways was something less tangible -- the experience of coming to Sotheby’s New York headquarters this November was far more varied and engaging to that offered by any other auction house in the world.
Alberto Giacometti's Grande Tête Mince (Grande Tête de Diego) sold for $50 million.
Beyond Magnificent Jewels and Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary art were a range of exhibitions and special auctions that captured the imagination of visitors and showed off the true depth and range of Sotheby’s today. The first object to greet viewers as they entered the York Avenue lobby was a spectacular red 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, which went on to sell for $14.3 million, leading the $63 million Art of the Automobile sale. Later in the week, some 44 other sublimely designed objects featured in Jony and Marc’s (RED) Auction sold in a celebrity-studded auction that raised $26 million for the fight against AIDS in Africa.
The 1965 Ferrari 250 LM sold for $14.3 million at the Art of the Automobile sale in New York.
A special exhibition of jewels from the unsurpassed collection of Alexandre Reza could be enjoyed on the same floor with the wittily designed garden inspired by the sculptures of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne. And for those of more puritanical tastes, a copy of the Bay Psalm Book – the first printed book in America – made a rare appearance in our galleries on the way to the auction block, where the humble hymnal book sold for $14.2 million, a new high for a book.
Bono and Coldplay's Chris Martin perform on the Steinway & Sons piano that sold for $1.9 million at Jony and Marc's (RED) Auction.
All in all, November at Sotheby’s was a month of wonder, surprise and excitement – as well as superb results for the sellers of precious treasures representing a sweeping range of human creation. What’s next? On to Beijing, where, beginning on November 28, Sotheby’s is bringing its unique blend of thrilling auctions and exhibitions to a new stage.