n a thrilling evening of art, Sotheby's returned to in-person sales with a record-breaking Contemporary Art Evening Auction at the New Bond Street galleries, presented in partnership with Celine. It featured the dramatic sale of Banksy's infamous Love is in the Bin, which smashed records, hammering at £18,582,000. The sale crowned a kaleidoscopic sweep of contemporary art from around the world, a vibrant mix of established and emerging artists that included Gerhard Richter, Banksy, Lucian Freud, Cy Twombly, Alighiero Boetti, Bridget Riley, Yayoi Kusama, Avery Singer, Flora Yukhnovich, Hilary Pecis and Salman Toor.
Immediately off the traps with a dramatic flurry of bids, the evening began with Lebanese artist Etel Adnan’s Untitled taking £352,000 after a lightning-fast blitz of bidding, which set the pace for the evening's sale. A tense bidding battle for Flora Yukhnovich’s stunning abstract painting I'll Have What She's Having saw this extraordinary young artist achieve a new record price at £2,253,500.
In an evening of drama, the highlights came thick and fast. But the excitement that greeted the seventh lot, Banksy’s Love is in the Bin (2018), was palpable. It sparked a fierce wave of bids, with the iconic piece finally going under the hammer for an astonishing £18,582,000, after a ten-minute chase by nine bidders. The first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction, Love is in the Bin tripled its £6 million in very same Sotheby’s saleroom in which it was born in 2018. On that occasion, stunned onlookers at the Contemporary Art Evening Auction saw Girl with Balloon “self-destruct”, immediately after the hammer came down at a record-breaking £1,042,000. Described at the time by the BBC’s Will Gompertz as “one of the most significant artworks of the early 21st Century”, the artwork provoked a dramatic and thrilling highlight to the evening and set a new world record for this extraordinary artist.
Elsewhere, strong bidding over three mesmerising abstracts by Gerhard Richter from the Helga and Walther Lauffs Collection executed in 1985 - S.D., Abstraktes Bild (576-1) and Abstraktes Bild (576-2) resulted in sales of £9,619,800, £7,896,300 and £5,943,000, reaffirming this leading figure status in the landscape of post war German art.
An exciting talent new to the showroom, painter Ewa Juszkiewicz's Maria (After Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck) smashed estimates to achieve £352,800, for a work described by critic Eric Troncy as "leading the history of classic and modern painting towards a 21st Century version of the Surreal.”
The sale also saw superb results for emerging talents from across the world. Hotly-tipped painter Jadé Fadojutimi's The Barefooted Scurry Home comfortably tripled its estimate, attracting a magnificent result of £825,700, whilst Cinga Samson's Lift-Off swiftly quadrupled its upper estimate, finding a new owner for £321,300.
The auction that celebrated and affirmed anew the power of art in our lives, the sale marked a post-lockdown celebration of creativity and notably, the dramatic ascent of a cadre of new talent, alongside established artists, in an evening of record-breaking results, and made a total of £65.9 million.
The series continues with the Contemporary Art Day Auction which closes on 15 October at 3pm BST.