On Friday, July 10, Christie’s rolled out a new concept with ONE, a global live auction offering Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art and Design in a relay of livestreamed sales in four cities.
During the pandemic, with restrictions varying by locale for travel and for congregating, “this hybrid-format concept sale is a way to adapt and innovate,” commented Christie’s chief executive officer, Guillaume Cerutti. Live, phone and online bidding combined with digital initiatives including Augmented Reality, bespoke virtual exhibition tools, a WeChat mini-program and the “ONE” relay sale format.
Using streaming technology, ONE took place in consecutive sessions in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, and realized $420,941,042, selling 94 per cent by lot and 97 per cent by value. The sales generated $1,730,000 to benefit amfAR’s Fund to Fight COVID-19.
In comparison, Christie’s evening sales of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art in May 2019 raised $937.8 million, more than double the totals of the “ONE” auction.
In June, Sotheby’s $363.2 million total for a global livestreamed sale was similarly just over half of the total of its $692 million evening Impressionist & modern and contemporary sales in New York last May. Notably, this June sale saw a record for a work on paper by Jean-Michel Basquiat at $15.2 million which Sotheby’s then said was the highest price ever from an online bidder at auction.
The Christie’s sale brought notable auction records for 13 artists: Ruth Asawa, Richard Avedon, Julia Chiang, George Condo, Titus Kaphar, Leelee Kimmel, Brice Marden, Manolo Millares, Christopher Page, Emily Mae Smith, Spencer Sweeney, Wayne Thiebaud, Takeo Yamaguchi and Austyn Weiner.
More than 80,000 people tuned in to watch the sales live, with 60,000 of those accessing through social media in Asia.
Giovanna Bertazzoni, Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Centuries Department, Christie’s, noted: “ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century was an opportunity for us to transform our traditional live auction experience and bring an international digital community to this format. The Wayne Thiebaud Four Pinball Machines was hotly pursued by an online bidder before selling to our colleague on the phone for a record price, demonstrating that clients will bid competitively on all platforms.”
The top price of the ONE sale was achieved by Nude with Joyous Painting (1994), by Roy Lichtenstein, which realized $46,242,500. Ana Maria Celis, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s, described the iconic work as “the most important example of Lichtenstein’s last great series of Nudes to have ever appeared at auction.”
Color Field artist Barnett Newman’s Onement V, from 1952, one of six paintings in Newman’s breakthrough ‘Onement’ series, realized $30,920,000.
Brice Marden’s Complements diptych, painted between 2004 and 2007 and exhibited at New York’s Matthew Marks Gallery in 2007, also sold for $30,920,000, establishing a new world record for the artist at auction.
The top lot in Hong Kong was Gerhard Richter’s Frost (1) (1989), which sold for HK$79,255,000. The Hong Kong section also saw strong results for George Condo’s Force Field from 2010, which achieved HK$53,150,000, a world record for the artist at auction; and Yellow Quadrangle (1959) by avant-garde Japanese painter Takeo Yamaguchi. The largest of Yamaguchi’s works ever to come to auction set a world record at HK$15,125,000 — more than five times the high estimate.
Martin Wong’s 1990 Untitled (Statue of Liberty), realised HK$4,925,000, nearly double the high estimate; while Homecoming by self-taught Canadian artist Matthew Wong soared above the high estimate before realising HK$3,000,000.
The Paris leg was led by Jean Dubuffet’s Pourlèche fiston (1963), which fetched €6,528,500. The second-highest price in Paris lwas for Amedeo Modigliani’s 1909 portrait of Maurice Drouard, which fetched €4,485,500.
In London, René Magritte’s monumental L’Arc de Triomphe, one of only a handful of Magritte paintings of such large scale still in private hands, sold for £17,798,750.
Carnival and Lent (2006-2008) by Cecily Brown produced the second-highest price of the London leg at £4,859,750, while Gebeugter Trinker [Bent Drinker] by Georg Baselitz realised £4,600,000. After an international bidding battle, David Hockney’s 1988 Jade Plant sold for £4,178,750, nearly triple the low estimate.
In addition to the works by Lichtenstein, Newman and Marden sold in New York, other notable results included Picasso’s monumental Les Femmes d’Alger (Version F), one of a series of 15 canvases based on Eugène Delacroix’s masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, which achieved $29,217,500.
Ed Ruscha’s groundbreaking early text painting Annie (1962) fetched $22,975,000, while Four Pinball Machines, one of the largest canvases from Wayne Thiebaud’s early period, sold for $19,135,000, setting a new world record for the artist at auction.
Painted in 1962, it depicts a row of arcade machines, decorated in a vibrant mix of oranges and yellows. “Thiebaud is one of the most underrated and overlooked painters of recent times,” says Stephen Jones, associate vice president of Post-War & Contemporary Art at Christie’s. “It’s only as we approach his 100th birthday that the world is really waking up to that.”
The New York leg also saw competitive bidding for Frank Stella’s Sharpeville from 1962, which realised $11,625,000; Georgia O’Keeffe’s From Pink Shell, which sold for $5,098,750, and two further Picasso works. Baigneuses, sirènes, femme nue et minotaure from 1937 sold for $8,106,500, while Baigneuses au ballon (1928) achieved $4,575,000, more than double the high estimate.