London Takes Centre Stage with Sotheby's $200m Summer Sales of British, Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art





“Today, bidders descended on London both virtually and in person, in a series of auctions that fortified London’s centuries-old standing as a global hub for art, one that shows no signs of abating. Looking to our inaugural British Art sale, the artists offered were reflective of just how cosmopolitan the art scene in the UK has always been, and this global outlook was mirrored in the cross-continent bidding battles we saw today.”
Helena Newman, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department
“After a year like none other, Summer in London is firmly back, revitalized, and looking to a bright future. We’ve had great art on the walls, some very special events and, today, great sales. Not the auctions of the past, nor the ‘auctions of the future’ that we pioneered last year, but a heady mix of the best of the physical and the virtual – a kind of top flight auction 2.0. And within this new space, we’re seeing a strong flush of enthusiasm and demand from a market that’s keen to turn an exciting new page.”
Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary, Europe

London, June 29 2021: Collectors converged on Sotheby’s London today, both digitally and physically, for its bellwether summer sales in London. These two major back-to-back auctions of British Art and Modern & Contemporary Art achieved the strongest results for summer sales in Europe since 2018.

Together, the auctions made £156.2 million / $217 million across 83 lots, a total comfortably within the pre-sale estimate (est. £119.7-170.3 million), and a 12% increase on the total for last year’s landmark Rembrandt to Richter sale. Bidding was resolutely global on a mix of property with an equally global provenance - not least the 21 works from a New York Charitable Family Trust, which was 100% sold (see below).

Among the many leading names offered today, Kandinsky and Freud took the spotlight, with Kandinsky’s calmées realising £21.2m /$29.5m and with Freud’s masterly portrait of his artistic peer and friend Hockney driven well beyond estimate by bidders from Asia, America and - of course - Britain: “These last few weeks, Freud’s intimate masterpiece has transfixed collectors both here in our galleries and around the world. That same appreciation came through today in strong competition from five bidders whose geographies speak to the magic Freud holds over collectors not just here but across the globe.” (Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Europe.)

Both auctions follow an extended pre-sale exhibition and a host of special events curated by Bella Freud, an icon of the British art and fashion scene, and daughter of Lucian Freud.

Over the past year, since Sotheby’s first introduced its innovative ‘livestream’ auctions, 14 series of livestream sales have totalled over $2.8 billion across the globe.


Global participation from across six continents, affirming London’s position as a melting pot for the global art market.

  • Fierce competition from collectors in Asia, with bidding noticeable throughout the sales, taking home works by Chris Ofili, Richard Lin, Jadé Fadojutimi, Salman Toor, two works by Pablo Picasso (Lot 107 and 164), three works by Edgar Degas, (Lots 110, 128 and 130) and Marc Chagall. Across all London sales in 2021, spend by collectors in Asia has doubled year to date.
  • US confidence signposted by the consignment of a key collection: Property from a New York Charitable Family Trust is 100% sold. All 21 lots found new homes, totalling £28.6 million / $39.7 million against a combined pre-sale estimate of £23-26.7 million. A further five lots will be offered in the Contemporary Art Day sale.

Deep bidding throughout, with the following lots attracting more than five bidders: Frank Auerbach, David Hockney (Lots 3 & 4), Lucian Freud, Hurvin Anderson, Dame Magdalene Odundo, Jadé Fadojutimi and Salman Toor.

50 clients watch from the saleroom, the biggest in person audience since February 2020, while the auction is live-streamed around the world via, Facebook, and YouTube in addition to the Asian channels ZaiArt, Beijing TV’s Douyin and ArtPro.

Almost half of all participants registered to place an online bid.




EST. £31.8-46.6 MILLION

Pursued by bidders from across London, New York and Hong Kong, Lucian Freud’s portrait of David Hockney eclipsed its top estimate to sell for £14.9 million / $20.7 million (est. £8-12 million) in its auction debut. Taking more than 100 hours to complete in the Spring/Summer of 2002, this masterful peer-to-peer portrait has remained unseen to the public since Freud’s 2012 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Rising Air by Peter Lanyon sold for £958,800 / $1.3 million (est. £400,000-600,000). Until now, it has resided in the same collection since it was acquired the year it was painted in 1961.

One of only a handful of rugby paintings by the artist, and the earliest depicting crowds heading to a sporting event, L.S. Lowry’s rare Going to the Match brings £2.9 million / $4.1 million (est. £2-3 million), in its first public appearance in decades.

Fierce competition for two canvases by David Hockney from the collection of Mrs Elizabeth Corob: Gladioli with Two Oranges brought a double-estimate £4.2 million / $5.9 million (est. £1.5-2 million), and determined participants pushed the price for The Luxor Hotel to £511,100 / $709,662 (est. £150,000-200,000).

Auction record set for Dame Magdalene Odundo when the artist’s Untitled ceramic more than quadrupled its estimate to sell for £378,000 / $524,853 (est. £60,000-90,000).

Frank Auerbachs portrait of renowned art critic Robert Hughes, executed whilst Hughes was writing his monograph on Auerbach, tripled its pre-sale estimate to sell for £302,400 / $419,882 (est. £100,000-150,000).

The sale was 88% sold by lot (30 of 34 lots found new homes).



EST. £87.9-123.7 MILLION

One of the most important works by the artist to come to auction in the last 10 years, Wassily Kandinsky’s Tensions calmées led today’s livestream event, realising £21.2 million / $29.5 million (est. £18-25 million). Originally acquired by the artist’s long-time supporter Solomon R. Guggenheim for his eponymous museum in 1945, it was last sold in 1964 - for £10,000 - in a historic auction of 50 paintings by Kandinsky from the museum at Sotheby’s. Click here to listen to Helena Newman’s musical performance inspired by the painting.

A fresh to the market private collection celebrating the female form was led by exquisite pastels by Edgar Degas and Odilon Redon. Edgas DegasLe Bain sold to a private collector in Asia for £2.7 million / $3.7 million (est. £1.5-2 million), whilst Odilon Redon’s vibrant symbolist Profil bleu doubled its pre-sale estimate to bring £1.4 million / $2 million (£600,000-800,000).

Jadé Fadojutimi’s I’m pirouetting the night away was pursued by multiple bidders, some from Asia and some online, before selling for £402,200 / $558,455 - more than triple its high estimate (est. £80,000-120,000).Fadojutimi’s top three prices at auction have all been set this month.

A record for a work on paper by Emil Nolde, as Sea with evening sky and sailing boat, circa 1930, soared to £765,200 / $1.1 million (est. £400,000-600,000). A further captivating evening seascape on paper, by Claude Monet, also exceeded its estimate at £1.2 million / $1.7 million.

The sale was 93% sold by lot (53 of 57 lots found a home)

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