A pretty penny
Christie's auctioneer Christopher Burge said only 29 percent of the buyers last week were Americans; about half were Europeans and Russians, and the remaining artworks went to Asians and a group dubbed “others,” which covers Middle Eastern billionaires and Latin Americans. (Sotheby's reported a similar breakdown Tuesday night.) Suffice it to say when Monte Carlo billionaire David Nahmad outbids Larry Gagosian for work by obscure Italian futurist movement painter Marino Marini, art history winds have shifted.
Artists with Euro followings — Feininger and Kirchner — also went thought the roof. Is it the weak dollar? The booming Berlin art scene? The fact that more and more Russians are pouring their oil, metal, and vodka fortunes into art? Whatever the case, Sotheby's raised $280 million on Tuesday, with 90 percent of the artworks sold. And tomorrow the fireworks begin in contemporary art. Sotheby's is offering "White Centre" (pictured here) by Rothko that has inspired a cult. Expect upwards of $50 million. But not to worry. If such a sum is beyond your budget, there is a second Rothko in the sale, a smaller work on paper. At an estimated selling price of between $1.5m and $2m, it’s a steal.
Sotheby's sale of contemporary paintings is to be held in New York tomorrow. Catalogue available here.