An auction of artworks amassed by real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda over five decades has set a record for a single collection, selling for $246 million at Sotheby’s New York bringing the total to $922 million.
Monday’s well-attended auction of 30 lots, in which every work sold but few exceeded the upper range of Sotheby’s estimates, highlighted a contemporary art market in which valuations remain robust for premier works. order.
Macklowe’s auction was seen as a test of the art market’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, but this year’s spring sales are seen as an indicator of war in Ukraine, lockdowns linked to Covid in China and warnings of a possible US recession. trusted by the world’s wealthiest collectors.
The night’s proceeds were above Sotheby’s estimate of $167-236 million, but fell short of expectations by such a large margin as the $676 million sale in November of 35 works from the Macklowes collection, which was the largest auction in the house’s history.
Total proceeds from the Macklowes’ works broke the auction record of $835 million for a private collection set in 2018, when more than 1,500 works owned by Peggy and David Rockefeller were sold. “It’s the story of the art market,” said Charles Stewart, chief executive of Sotheby’s.
A 1960 painting by Mark Rothko that had never been auctioned has fetched the highest price of the night after a protracted bidding battle reached $48 million, including the bidder’s premium , against an estimate of 35 to 50 million dollars.
A seascape by Gerhard Richter estimated at $25-35 million sold for $30.2 million, in a strong night for German artists in which two works by Sigmar Polke smashed estimates, each selling for over $6 million.
“The state of the market appears to be extremely bullish at the moment for good items,” said auctioneer Oliver Barker, European chairman of Sotheby’s. Bidders came from more than 30 countries, the company added, with Asian, American and European buyers all well represented.
One of Andy Warhol’s last works, a camouflaged image from 1986, sold to an Asian collector for $18.7 million, setting a record for a self-portrait by the artist.
Warhol’s ‘Shot Sage Blue Marilyn’ serigraph sold for $195 million at Christie’s this month, becoming the most expensive 20th-century work of art to ever sell at auction.
An untitled abstract painting by Willem de Kooning from 1961 attracted the strongest interest, with six bidders pushing the price past its estimate of $7-10 million to sell for $17.8 million.
As with the November sale, a work by Agnès Martin far exceeded expectations, with “Early Morning Happiness” winning the most applause of the night when it sold for 9.9 million. dollars, against an estimate of 2.5 to 3.5 million dollars.
Harry Macklowe, who once taunted Linda Macklowe after their 2016 divorce by installing 42ft-tall portraits of himself and his new bride on one of his Park Avenue buildings, said the sale represents him “closing the door on a chapter of my life and moving on”.
The result of the auction was “very satisfactory”, he added. “Everyone has approved of the choices we have made for 65 years. And for me, that’s the greatest reward and gratification I could ever have.