Press Release

Market Races Ahead As In-Person and Digital Experiences Merge at Sotheby’s

New York
Tonight’s Three Sales of Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art in New York

Realize $597 million

Up 64% on Equivalent Sales in June 2020

Large-Scale Late Water Lily Painting by Claude Monet Achieves $70.4m

Pursued by Five Bidders

Basquiat’s Ultimate Challenge to Status Quo Sells for $50.8 Million

Robert Colescott’s Bold Confrontation with American History,
George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook
Acquired by the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art for Record-Smashing $15.3 Million

8 Works Sell for Over $20 Million
18 Works Achieve Prices Over $10 Million

11 New Auction Records Set Across Three Sales
Julian Cassady

“The market took a leap forward into new territory tonight as in-person and virtual experiences came together in an evening that saw old benchmarks shattered across all levels of the market.”

Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sotheby’s Chairman, Managing Director and Worldwide Head of Business Development, Global Fine Art

”Tonight we took the pulse of the market - and it is clearly racing, with collectors from across the globe coming out in full force for the entire spectrum of 20th and 21st century art.”

Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art

NEW YORK, 12 MAY 2021 - Sotheby’s New York saleroom, redesigned for the occasion by Hamilton set designer David Korins, welcomed a limited number of clients this evening for a series of gala-style sales that brought together in-person and digital experiences as never before, with results to match:

Together, the three sales staged this evening realized $597 million (total pre-sale estimate across all three sales $439.4/603.8m), bringing the overall total auction sales at Sotheby’s worldwide this week to $672,897,518, with additional sales taking place in Geneva, London and Paris. Sotheby’s Day Sales of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art are still to come this week.


Participants from 43 countries

Livestream attracted 1.7 million views around the world

Across all three sales: 93% sold by lot

Collectors in Asia take home works by Gerhard Richter, Roy Lichtenstein, George Condo, Jeff Koons, Dana Schutz, George Condo, Claude Monet, Leonor Fini, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and underbid works by Banksy, Monet’s Le Bassin aux nymphéas, Egon Schiele, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir

At least five bidders competed for works by Claude Monet, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Elizabeth Peyton, Banksy, Rudolf Stingel, and Raymond Pettibon

Eleven Auction Records: Robert Colescott | Richard Diebenkorn | Leonor Fini | Childe Hassam | Jeff Koons (Painting) | Harold Ancart | Kenneth Noland | Larry Rivers | Raymond Pettibon | Elizabeth Peyton | Salman Toor



Every paddle raised in this evening’s sale paid homage to Mrs. Marion’s remarkable life - her boundless energy and limitless spirit of inquiry.”

Michael Macaulay, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist for Contemporary Art

Sale total: $157.2 million (est. $132.8-190.2 million)

Two works exceed $30 million & four works exceed $20 million

Artist records for Richard Diebhenkorn, Kenneth Noland, and Larry Rivers

Andy Warhol’s 1963 Elvis 2 Times eclipses high estimate to sell for $37 million in auction debut (est. $20/30 million)

Clyfford Still’s masterwork, PH-125 (1948-No. 1) achieves $30.7 million in its auction debut (est. $25/35 million)

Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild was underbid by one collector in Asia, and sold to another for $23.2 million (est. $14/18 million)

Richard Diebenkorn’s seven-foot-tall Ocean Park #40 - bought at Sotheby’s in 1990 for $880,000 - sells for at $27.3 million (est. $20/30 million)


“The tremendous result for Basquiat reaffirms his position as the preeminent and most sought-after artist in the market right now. There is no question, Basquiat’s now stands alongside Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and other great artists of the 20th century.”

Grégoire Billault, Sotheby’s Chairman of Contemporary Art

Sale total: $218.3 million (estimate $140.1/194.3 million); 100% sold

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Versus Medici – see above

Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Rome) from the artist’s series of Blackboards paintings brought $41.6 million (estimate $35/45 million)

Robert Colescott’s George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware shattered his previous auction record ($912,500) by more than 16 times. The painting sold for $15.3 million (estimate $9/12 million) after a seven-minute bidding battle, to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Banksy's Love is in the Air sold to applause after a 14-minute bidding battle for $12.9 million (estimate $3/5 million) - the second-highest auction price for the artist


“Tonight’s sale is a resounding vote of confidence in the Impressionist & Modern art market, with strong global demand for the roll call of great names we were able to present.”

Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Impressionist & Modern Art

Sale total: $221.3 million (estimate $166.5/219.3 million); 94% sold
Claude Monet’s Le Bassin aux nymphéas – see above

Paul Cézanne’s Nature morte: pommes et poires $20 million (estimate $25-35 million). last sold at auction for $8.7 million at Sotheby’s NY in November 2003.

Leonor Fini’s Autoportrait au scorpion brought $2.3 million – over 2x its high estimate and the artist’s previous auction record

Five works by Pablo Picasso were 100% sold, including Femme assise en costume vert which sold for $21 million (estimate $14/18 million)

Joan Miró’s Peinture achieves $12.7 million (estimate $12/18 million)

Childe Hassam’s Flags on 57th Street, Winter 1918, which sold for $12.3 million (estimate $12/18 million).

Sotheby’s sales of Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary Art continue this week in New York:

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale: Online Auction Open for Bidding through 14 May

Derek Parsons
+1 212 606 7176
Adrienne DeGisi
+1 212 606 7176
Mitzi Mina
+44 20 7293 6000

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