If we thought the Frieze Art Fair and “The Age of Koons” had us busy, this week held one record-breaking auction after another.
Things kicked off Monday at Christie’s New York, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s 11th Hour auction brought in $38.8 million in support of DiCaprio’s foundation, which itself addresses issues relating to the environment (After all, as Leo points out, with all we’ve done to the earth, it really may be the 11th Hour…) Together with Christie’s wunderkind Loic Gouzer, DiCaprio recruited a sterling batch of artists – among them, Sterling Ruby, Robert Longo, Sherrie Levine, Andreas Gursky, Zeng Fanzhi, Ed Ruscha, Takashi Murakami, and the list just goes and goes… – to the cause, hand-picking a selection of work (some of it tiger-themed, no less) so impressive, it’s no wonder the auction ended up setting 13 records. One Mark Grotjahn painting – estimated at $1.5 -2.5 million – brought in a hammer price of $6.5 million, after a heated bidding war between Larry Gagosian and Vlad Doronin, the real estate magnate who was more recently known to the art world as Naomi Campbell’s collector boyfriend (though he also helped to kick off the Russian version of Interview Magazine.) In his write-up for Gallerist, Dan Duray quotes Leo as quite pleased with the results: “That Vlad and Larry thing was crazy, dude!” [For more about the concept and the build-up of the auction, may we humbly recommend Maria Baibakova’s column (in Russian) on Buro 247?]
The following night, Sotheby’s raised eyebrows of its own with the news that a Barnett Newman had gone for a record $43.8 million, while a 1968 Richter brought in $37 million (alas, not to the artist himself, who is currently beset by tax woes.) Even more eye-raising, maybe, was the fact that a Jeff Koons went unsold, perhaps as a karmic mosquito bite in answer to last week’s cover claim.
Wednesday night, Christie’s continued the streak, bringing in the highest auction total ever with the $495 million spent at their Post War and Contemporary Evening Sale. A 1948 Jackson Pollock fetched $58.3 million alone, followed by Roy Lichtenstein‘s 1963 Woman with a Flowered Hat ($56.1 million), Jean-Michel Basquiat‘s 1982 Dustheads ($48.8 million) and a 1958 Mark Rothko (holding strong at $27 million.) Another Koons failed to sell (another karmic mosquito bite? We’re sure with the dueling shows at Zwirner and Gagosian, the artist has little to fear about his market.) And while Phillips‘ Thursday evening sale of Contemporary Art may have been the underperformer-of-the-week, they still managed to score $38.5 million for a 1962 Warhol, Four Marilyns (though hearsay points to Gagosian as the main engine driving up that price.) As Christie’s Julki Pylkkänen proclaimed: “We are in a new era of the art market.”
Amid all the excitement, Moscow is trying to drum up a little buzz of its own. Regina Gallery founder and director Vladimir Ovcharenko will oversee a new attempt at founding a contemporary art auction house in Moscow, VLADEY. (Yes, that looks a little narcissistic at first, but the Russian stem vlad– connotes ownership.) VLADEY will showcase only Russian contemporary work.
The first auction is scheduled for May 23, 2013, at Red October (the former home not only of Baibakov Art Projects but of a recently-closed nonprofit of Ovcharenko’s.) The top lot is a work by Tair Salakhov (who recently represented Azerbaijan at the 53rd Venice Biennale, and is also the father of Moscow staple Aidan Salakhova.) The 2007 painting, Meeting in Monaco, is estimated at €350,000 – €400,000, while the next largest estimate (for a 2001 painting by the recently deceased wonder, Oleg Vassiliev) comes in at €70,000. The rest of the prices are markedly more modest, going down to €800 for collages by up-and-comer Olya Kroiter. Other artists include AES+F, Semyon Faibisovich and Pavel Pepperstein.
For more information about VLADEY and the May 23 sale, check here.