Records tumble at Sotheby's auction

KOLKATA: Anish Kapoor has stolen the show among Indian artists at the Sotheby’s Evening sale of Contemporary Art in London. In the feverish bidding that took place, an untitled sculpture from 2003 by Kapoor sold for £1.945 million (about $4 million) after being hotly contested by three bidders. This price represents a new auction record for the Mumbai-born artist.

The ‘stunning’ piece, which soared above its pre-sale estimate of £1-1.5 million, “embodies the pioneering manipulation of space and material that characterises the very best output of this world-renowned sculptor.” The untitled sculpture is one of Kapoor’s largest alabaster works and the first double-concave piece to come to auction.

Among other Indian works, Subodh Gupta’s untitled work, created in 2005, catapulted above its pre-sale estimate of £2,00,000-3,00,000, selling for £6,01,250. The untitled canvas, depicting a vessel stall glistening in the pink dawn of sunrise, is one of Gupta’s most important and powerful photo-realist paintings to ever come to the market.

Bharti Kher made her debut appearance at the Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art. Her sculpture, ‘Misdemeanours’, executed in fibreglass, wood and fur, saw bidding from six bidders and finally realised £75,650, against an estimate of £40,000-60,000.

The sale, overall, achieved a phenomenal sum of £94.702 million ($188.854 million) against a pre-sale estimate of £67.4-96.6 million making it the most successful summer sale of contemporary art in Europe. The sale had numerous high points, with records achieved by 11 different artists.

Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of contemporary art, Sotheby’s Europe and Oliver Barker, senior international specialist, Sotheby’s contemporary art department, told ET in an email from London: “We are elated with the results of the sale, the highest ever Summer sale of contemporary art in Europe. We saw 11 records tumble, including ones for Antony Gormley, Bridget Riley, Richard Prince and Anish Kapoor, in front of a hugely energetic and packed saleroom.”

“The top lot of the sale was Francis Bacon’s exquisite small-scale study for head of George Dyer, which sold for £13.7 million. We are also extremely happy with the result achieved for the group of twelve works from the Lauffs Collection, which achieved a total of £18.9 million, almost triple the pre-sale low estimate of £6.4 million. Once again, we are witnesses to a market that is driven by art lovers. Buyers have confidence in the artworks they are competing for, and have shown unprecedented determination to win the lots which they desire.”

Incidentally, the portrait of John McEnroe and Tatum O’Neal by Andy Warhol, depicting McEnroe and O’Neal in their mid-1980s prime, sold for £241,250. Gifted by McEnroe himself, the proceeds will be donated by the tennis star for the benefit of habitat for humanity, which provides not-for-profit housing through the help of volunteers.
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