LED by a record-breaking Jeff Koons sculpture and a $US46 million Francis Bacon canvas, Sotheby's has roared back from a dismal Impressionist sale to score the highest total in its history at a contemporary and postwar art auction.
Bacon's Second Version of Study for Bullfight No. 1 far exceeded its $US35 million-plus pre-sale estimate, while Koons' stainless steel Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold) soared to $US23,561,000, including commission, obliterating the artist's $US11.8 million record set a day earlier by his Diamond (Blue) sculpture.
Both Koons works were bought by the Gagosian Gallery, one of Manhattan's premier contemporary art dealers. Koons' 1600-kilogram sculpture, from his "Celebration" series, became the highest-priced work by a living artist sold at auction.
. . .
While prices have risen astronomically in the past year or two, the $US316 million total for Sotheby's exceeded even its most optimistic forecast of $US299 million for the 71 lots on offer. Only six works went unsold.
Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's head of contemporary art, said the results bore out "the high-quality hunger we're experiencing from a completely global community". Fears the weak dollar would deter US buyers, the traditional collectors of contemporary art, proved unfounded, with most buyers being American.
Sotheby's stock jumped nearly 10% in early Thursday trading.
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