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Sotheby's online sales top $100M with record-setting $13.7M Contemporary Art Online Day Auction
Richard Estes, Broadway and 64th, 1984. Sold for $860,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s first ever Contemporary Art Day Auction Online concluded yesterday, totaling $13.7 million – the highest total ever for an online sale at Sotheby’s and more than double the previous record. The sale marks more than $100 million total in global online sales at Sotheby’s in 2020, nearly 5 times the total for online sales during the same period in 2019. The auction saw competitive bidding, with international bidding across 35 countries and 29% of all buyers new to Sotheby’s.

Nicole Schloss, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Day Auctions of Contemporary Art in New York, commented: “We are thrilled with the results of our first ever Online Day sale of Contemporary Art, which was a major test of the market for online sales at this value level, and was resoundingly successful. To set a new record for an online sale as Sotheby’s is a testament to the strength of market at all levels right now and the quality of the works on offer. We were especially proud to see two works achieve more than $1 million, which rank among our top prices ever for works sold in online sales, and is a very strong sign that the top end of the market will continue to find a place in bigger and more ambitious online sales.”

Max Moore, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Day Auctions of Contemporary Art in New York, said: “The results from Thursday’s sale are a bellwether of the strength of the market right now and the growing possibilities of online sales. We saw active bidding not only at the top end of the market, but also for younger, up-and-coming artists, including noteworthy results for Matthew Wong and Kengo Takahashi, both of whom made their auction debuts. There were also strong prices achieved far above high estimates for Lucas Arruda, Sanya Kantarovsky, Claire Tabouret, and Julie Curtiss, among others. The sale was a clear signal that there is still a healthy appetite for quality works on the market, and that consignors trust not only the online format but the market in general right now.”

Auction highlights:
• Christopher Wool, Untitled, 1988. Estimate $1.2/1.8 million, sold for $1.2 million: Untitled from 1988 is an exceptional example of Christopher Wool’s ‘pattern paintings,' in which he developed his style away from his early Abstract Expressionist works through the original use of wallpaper rollers. This seemingly simple innovation opened the possibility of mechanical reproduction in painting – much in the same way that Andy Warhol’s innovation of the silkscreen encouraged production in 1962. He identified a tool that was readily available and ubiquitous in any urban domestic environment, and transformed it into a bold new method of making fine art that is loaded with art historical references.

• Brice Marden, Window Study No. 4, 1985. Estimate $700/900,000, sold for $1.1 million: The preeminent abstract painter working today, Brice Marden is celebrated for his mastery over the fundamental components of the medium. Executed in 1985 after nearly a decade of conceptual development, Window Study No. 4 brings together cool and warm tones in ethereal washes, crafting the sensation of light and warmth emanating from within the canvas. An exemplar of Marden’s output, the present work captures the artist as he moved to address notions of spirituality as well as the relationship between nature and the individual, which endure as the primary painterly concerns of his practice.

• Richard Estes, Broadway and 64th, 1984. Estimate $300/400,000, sold for $860,000: Painted in 1984, Broadway and 64th depicts the well-known Manhattan intersection at the epicenter of Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side. The impressive building pictured in the background is the internationally renowned Center for the Performing Arts, which houses institutions such as the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and the New York City Ballet. Estes is renowned for his extraordinary precisionist technique in producing familiar yet uncanny depictions of New York cityscapes, featuring multilayered, ultra-reflective surfaces of steel and glass skyscrapers.

New Benchmarks for contemporary art
Two world auction records were set for Matthew Wong and Kengo Takahashi, both of whom made their auction debuts: Matthew Wong’s Untitled, which sold for $62,500 following a bidding battle between 8 bidders – achieving more than four times its $15,000 high estimate (pictured left); and Japanese artist Kengo Takahasi’s Flower Funeral Deer achieved $100,000 – surpassing its $80,000 high estimate. Works by some of today’s most covetable artists also achieved exceptional results, including Lucas Arruda’s Untitled, which reached $300,000 – following a bidding battle between 8 bidders and surpassing it’s $200,000 high estimate; Genieve Figgis’s Gentleman with a Stick sold for $52,500 – over 1.5x its $30,000 high estimate; and Loie Hollowell’s Curves Under a Moon sold for $40,000 – surpassing its $25,000 high estimate, among others.

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