Magazine Home  |  News  |  Features  |  Reviews  |  Books  |  People  |  Horoscope  
Artnet News
Last night was the first sale Christie's has devoted exclusively to Post-War art (1945-1970) and the format paid off -- records for sales at auction were broken for a number of artists, including Francis Bacon and Willem de Kooning. The auction house had guaranteed prices to many sellers to attract quality works, according to Carol Vogel in the New York Times, and the gamble often paid off. For example, Christie's reportedly guaranteed Yves Klein's Re 1 (1958) for $4 million to German collector Frieder Burda and it broke a record when it sold to an unidentified European bidder for $6,716,000 (est. $4 million-$5 million). (Klein's previous record had been Re 40 (ca. 1960), which fetched $6,270,000 at Sotheby's in May of this year.) In all, 46 lots sold of the 54 offered and sales totaled $59.7 million, just above the low estimate of $58.3 million. Not everything did so well, though. Most notably, bidding stopped at $9 million for Mark Rothko's Untitled (White, Yellow, Red on Yellow) (1953), far below its $15 million-$20 million estimate.

Among the new records:
  • Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer Talking (1966) fetched $6,606,000 (est. $3.5 million-$4.5 million). Previous record: $6,270,000 for Triptych, May-June (1973) at Sotheby's in 1989.

  • Gerhard Richter's Kongress (Professor Zander) (1965) sold for $4,956,000 (est. $3 million-$4 million). Previous record: $3,650,306 for Domplatz, Mailand (1968) at Sotheby's in 1998.

  • Willem de Kooning's drawing Monumental Woman (1953) reached $2,646,000 (est. $1.5 million-$2 million). Previous record for a work on paper: $1,870,000 for Two Women IV at Christie's in 1988.

  • Elsworth Kelly's Falcon (1959) sold for $1,078,500 (est. $300,000-$500,000). Previous record: $805,500 Green Red Yellow Blue (EK 351) (1964) at Sotheby's in 1994.

New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan has ruled that Sotheby's and Christie's proposed $512 million antitrust lawsuit settlement can be submitted for consideration to the 100,000 plaintiffs, with both sides retaining the option to reject or accept the terms on its final approval hearing on Jan. 8, according to Ralph Blumenthal and Carol Vogel in the New York Times. The judge is also planning to appoint an expert witness to report whether the auctioneers and former Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman have the ability to pay punitive fines up to three times the amount lost by customers -- estimated by economist Jeffrey Leitzinger to be $286 million -- which adds up to a staggering total of $858 million. The auction houses have the option to object to the plan and to nominate their own experts to study the question.

The price-fixing investigation and lawsuits are having a disturbing toll on Sotheby's, which is reporting a "significant loss" of $188.6 million for the first nine months of 2000, with shares falling from $24.31 to $22.19 at closing yesterday. According to Robert J. Hughes in the Wall Street Journal, most of the losses came in the third quarter -- the period of much of the legal action -- with shares dropping $3.13 a share, compared with a 41 cent drop in the same quarter last year. In addition to the legal woes, the losses in the auction house's Internet initiatives amounted to $24 million, leading to plans to combine the auctioneers' Internet-auction business staff with its live-auction operations. The company is also considering closing or consolidating some operations in Britain and transferring all of its employees in New York, currently in five locations, into its York Avenue headquarters. The moves might ensue layoffs of "substantially less" than ten percent of its approximately 2,000 employees, says president William Ruprecht.

In a surprisingly lenient outcome, retired English teacher Dennis Heiner has received a conditional discharge and a $250 fine for smearing white paint over half of Chris Ofili's Holy Virgin Mary at the Brooklyn Museum's much-maligned "Sensation" exhibition last December, reports the New York Daily News. The prosecution had requested probation, ten days of community service and one day of sensitivity training for Heiner, but Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber said the sentence would make it difficult for the 73-year-old to care for his blind 89-year-old wife. Farber also rejected the District Attorney's request for an order of protection to keep Heiner away from the museum, saying "So long as he has paint in his hand, he is to stay away from the Brooklyn Museum. Otherwise, I encourage him to attend the Brooklyn Museum or any other museum he chooses."

The second annual International 20th Century Arts Fair, featuring 57 dealers from 11 countries, is coming to the Seventh Regiment Armory, Nov. 25-Nov. 29. The exposition, the newest of the five Haughton International Fairs, is also hosting "Design for Living: Furniture and Lighting 1950-2000," a special exhibition on loan from the Montreal Museum of Decorative Arts/Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, featuring selections by designers such as Ray and Charles Eames, Poul Henningsen, Marc Newson, Isamu Noguchi and Marcel Wanders. A special preview is being held Nov. 24 with cocktail tickets for $70. General admission is $15, including fair catalogue; call (212) 642-8572 for more info.

Dia Center for the Arts presents "Orbit," the first major exhibition in the U.S. of Belgian artist Panamarenko, Nov. 29, 2000-June 17, 2001. The artist has been well known overseas since the 1960s for his experimental flying machines modeled on the motion of birds, insects and aircraft, as well as for his collaborations with artists such as Joseph Beuys and Marcel Broodthaers. Dia is located in Chelsea at 545 W. 22nd.

The Museum of Modern Art has appointed May Castleberry editor for the new Library Council, a program established to create special publications in support of the MoMA library and museum archives. Castleberry was founder and director of the "Artists and Writers Series" of the Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum.

MoMA is screening Lora Hays and Chris Pelzer's Tell It Like It Is!, the National Coalition Against Censorship's new video on censorship of children's books, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. as part of its New Documentaries program.

-- compiled by Giovanni Garcia-Fenech
Artnet News can be reached by email at Send Email.