George Condo, 'Anitpodal Reunion' 2005 sells for £1million / $1.3million
Press Release

Contemporary Curated Realises the Highest Ever Total for an Online Sale Staged by Sotheby's

By Sotheby's
Online Bidding Battle Takes George Condo's Quasi-Human Portrait to £1million / $1.3million - the highest price realised for a painting in an online sale at Sotheby's

Total: Sotheby’s eighth edition of ‘Contemporary Curated’ in London realised £5,097,250 / $6,401,127, soaring above its pre-sale estimate of £3,435,900-4,668,500. This is the highest total ever achieved for an online sale at Sotheby’s. 88% of the lots offered were sold, with over half of those exceeding their high estimates. Attracting an average of 12.4 bids for every lot sold, the auction saw competitive bidding through to the final day and in the final seconds.

‘Contemporary Curated’ is one of numerous sales at Sotheby’s that had originally been scheduled as live auctions, but – in light of the current global circumstances – have been converted into an online sale. This is the now the 18th online auction staged at Sotheby’s since the 20th March, which together have realised a total of $37 million (almost half Sotheby’s $80 million annual total for dedicated online sales in 2019).

Top Lot: The sale was led by ‘Antipodal Reunion’, a colossal painting by George Condo from 2005 (Lot 30). Quick fire bids pushed the final total beyond its high estimate to £1,035,000 / $1,299,753, the highest price ever achieved for a painting in an online sale at Sotheby’s. Bearing a striking similarity to Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Bathers’ from 1918, ‘Antipodal Reunion’ is a key example of Condo’s adoption of the Spanish artist’s style and technique, which continues to inspire his oeuvre.

George Condo, Antipodal Reunion, 2005 Sotheby's

Guest Curator: For this season, Sotheby’s teamed up with fashion designer Margherita Missoni, whose personal edit of artworks was 100% sold, and accounted for over a third of the sale total. Among Missoni’s selection was Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Star’ that soared beyond the pre-sale estimate to sell for £237,500/ $298,252 (Lot 11), and Imi Knoebel’s large scale ‘Trinity Bay’, which totalled £225,000 / $282,555 (Lot 21). Attracting eight bids, a further highlight includes Tim Noble & Sue Webster’s hot pink neon artwork, ‘Fucking Beautiful’, which doubled its estimate to achieve £106,250 / $133,429 (Lot 36).

Margherita Missoni Margherita Missoni

Further highlights: Combining the gaudiness of the 1970s disco movement with the transcendental wonder of religious architecture, Monir Farmanfarmaian’s dazzling ‘Geometry of Hope’ sold for £375,000 / $470,925 – the highest price achieved for her work at any international auction house (Lot 40). In the artist’s debut appearance in a Contemporary sale at Sotheby’s Fahrelnissa Zeid’s abstract study of the moon also realised a starry result, achieving £250,000 / $313,950 after attracting 9 bids (Lot 44).

27 bids were also placed on Andy Warhol’s ‘Crosses’, driving the final price for the work on paper to £106,250 / $133,429, five times the pre-sale high estimate (Lot 37). Elsewhere, the sale saw competitive bidding for a spot painting by Damien Hirst (Lot 12) that soared above its estimate to reach £118,750 / £149,126, while 13 bids for Invader’s ‘Red Rubik Phantom’ pushed the total to £162,500 / $204,068 (Lot 13).

Statistics on Bidders & Buyers:
· Over a third of buyers were new to Sotheby’s.
· 36% of bidders in the sale were under 40 years old.
· Participants hailed from 36 countries.

Please find the full results here, with a selection of high-resolution images available for download here.

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Online Sales at Sotheby’s: Online sales have been an important, fast-growing part of Sotheby’s business for some time now, with an ever-increasing number of collectors willing to bid for high-value lots online. In 2019 alone, Sotheby’s sold no less than $250 million of fine art and luxury goods to online bidders across a mix of live and dedicated online sales. $80 million of that was achieved by 9,000 lots sold in 129 dedicated online auctions - a dollar total 55% higher than 2018.

Already for 2020, Sotheby’s had planned to schedule a further expanded calendar of dedicated online sales. Now, since the onset of Covid-19, that number has increased significantly, as the benefits of online transacting become ever clearer to an increasingly wide spectrum of consignors and buyers.

In March, in the wake of widespread lockdowns, Sotheby’s rapidly and successfully converted six sales, originally scheduled to be held live in our auction rooms, to online sales. In total, 14 dedicated online auctions in March totalled almost $26 million (double the total for the same period last year, and more than 25% of the annual total for 2019).

A further 43 dedicated online sales have been or will be held in April and May, including two new additions to the New York May sales schedule, Contemporary Art Day Auction Online (open for bidding 4 – 14 May) and Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale Online (open for bidding 4 – 15 May). Click here to see the latest sale calendar.

About Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as Advisory services for collectors, museums, corporations, artists, estates and foundations. Sotheby’s presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including three retail businesses: Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds, and Sotheby’s Home, the online marketplace for interior design.

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* Estimates do not include buyer's premium or overhead premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer's premium and overhead premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

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