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Seated Figure on Couch
Bought in at $1.78 million.
Crag with Flat Top
Four Foot Flowers
Nine Multicolored Marilyns (Reversal Series)
The Memory Haunts My Reverie
Untitled Film Still, #48
Willem de Kooning
a tale of two cities: new york contemporary sales by Judd Tully
The evening contemporary sales in New York this week resembled a tale of two cities. Sotheby's so-so $11.2 million performance on Nov. 19 exited with a 29 percent buy-in rate and was similar to a number of less- than-stellar evening sales since the market downturn in late 1990. In fact, it was the lowest tally of the '90s. That's not a big surprise since the property, aside from a handful of significant exceptions, was nothing to write home about. Still, 32 of the 42 lots that found buyers fell within or exceeded their pre-sale estimates. Given those somewhat plain parameters, the sale came close to matching its $13.7 million pre-sale low estimate. It would have looked much stronger if the evening's most expensive lot, Francis Bacon's twisted Seated Figure on a Couch(1962) (est. $2 million-$2.5 million) had sold. But it bombed at $1.78 million, apparently one bid shy of its secret reserve. Considering the picture had been shopped around and was owned by a well-known European dealer, its spurning was a surprisingly close call.