Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christie's art auction disappoints


Sales at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art auction totaled $113.6 million, well under the auction house's estimate of $227 million to $327 million.

Miriam Kreinin Souccar

It was another disappointing night for the art world, as sales at

Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art auction came in far below
estimates, capping off a dismal fall season for the art market.

The sale totaled $113.6 million, well under its estimate of $227 million
to $327 million. Of the 75 works for sale, only 51, or 68% of the lots,
found buyers.

Most alarming was that the sale's cover lot, Jean-Michell Basquiat's
"Untitled (Boxer)", failed to sell. The piece, estimated at $40 million,
is acclaimed as one of the artist's greatest achievements and one of the
most important works by Basquiat to come to auction.

Another important painting by Lucio Fontana, estimated at around $12
million, also failed to find a buyer.

The auction wasn't a complete wash however. Joseph Cornell's "Pharmacy"
sold for $3.8 million, well over its estimate of $1.5 million to $2
million, setting a record for the artist. Records were broken for
artists Paul McCarthy and Robert Irwin as well.

The evening was vastly different from Christie's last major Post-war and
Contemporary art sale in May. That auction totaled $348.2 million, well
above its $282 million low estimate with only three lots going unsold.
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