New record for most valuable work of art ever sold at auction

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
New record for most valuable work of art ever sold at auction

$179,365,000 for Picasso’s ‘Les femmes d’Alger, Version O’ is the new record for most valuable work of art ever sold at auction. $141,285,000 for Giacometti’s ‘Pointing man’ is the new record for most valuable work of sculpture ever sold at auction.

New record for most valuable work of art ever sold at auction

Christie’s innovative Evening Sale Looking Forward to the Past, achieved $705,858,000 (£458,051,914/ €630,737,486) with sell-through rates of 97% by lot and 99% by value. New world auction records were set for 10 works of art during the sale, including Picasso’sLes femmes d’Alger, Version O from 1955, which sold for $179,365,000 (£116,395,198/€160,276,188), and became the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction.  Later in the sale, Giacometti’s L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man) conceived in 1947 achieved $141,285,000 (£91,683,971/ €126,248,829), setting a new record for any sculpture sold at auction. Of the 35 works offered, 2 lots sold for over $100 million, 3 for over $50 million, 9 lots for over $20 million, 12 lots for over $10 million, 12 lots over for over $10 million, and 29 lots over $1 million.

All of the works offered in Looking Forward to the Past were selected for their connection to a central theme of artistic innovation inspired by the past. The exhibition generated a tremendous response from both clients and the public. 15,000 visitors have viewed the pre-sale exhibition at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries over the last 10 days, and this evening’s sale saw participation from a diverse group of clients representing 35 different countries.

“From the moment that we announced the sale, global collectors embraced the concept and were prepared to consign masterpieces to the auction. Over 70 percent of the works included in the sale have been shown in major museum exhibitions and the works themselves spanned over 100 years of modernism, beginning with Monet’s Le Parlement of 1901 to Urs Fischer’s wax figure of Rudolf Stingel of 2011,” noted Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President and the sale’s auctioneer. “Christie’s will continue in years to come to innovate more sale concepts that inspire the art collecting public. We have entered a new era of the art market where collectors from all parts of the world compete for the very best across categories, generating record prices at levels we have never seen before.”

Loic Gouzer, International Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art and curator of theLooking Forward to the Past sale, stated: “There are few companies where you could dream up a new sale concept like this, and gain the support and understanding to make your idea to become a reality, let alone a major success. Christie’s created this event tonight as a team, and we are  thrilled to see collectors have responded to this cross-category approach so enthusiastically.”

Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger, Version O

Twenty minutes in the sale, auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President of Christie’s, dropped the gavel on a new world auction record for the most valuable work of art sold at auction. Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, Version O sold for $179.4 million after 11 and ½ minutes of bidding to a client on the phone with Brett Gorvy, International Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art.  Several clients chased the work from its starting bid of $100 million, trading at least 30 bids in increments of $1 million until it reached its final hammer price of $161 million. The sale marks the second time that Christie’s has sold this particular Picasso painting; in 1997, it was offered from the celebrated Ganz collection and sold for US$31.9 million against an estimate of $10-12 million.

Christie’s New York broke its own record with the sale of the Picasso. The previous record for any work of art sold at auction was $142.4 million, set in 2013 for Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud. Christie’s also broke its own record for the most valuable work by Picasso ever sold at auction. The previous record was set in 2010 with the sale of the artist’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust from 1932 for $106.5 million.

Source: Christie's

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Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

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