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the artnet 
auction results
christie's nov. 20
contemporary sale 
was a rousing success
by Stewart Waltzer 
"Finally" is what Christopher Burge said 
when lot 36 failed to sell, the first 
passed lot of the evening. It was an 
indelible experience, on a par with 
watching Dwight Gooden pitch a no-hitter. 
It was made more incredible, if I can push 
the metaphor further, by generally average 
fielding (that is to say, unspectacular 
lots offered overall)--with the exception 
of the spectacular play made on the de 
Kooning at $14.2 million. Without 
diminishing Burge's performance on the 
mound one is forced to wonder how he did 
it. How does one sell a $25,000 Motherwell 
for $65,000 three times in a row? (Lots 1, 
2 and 8). Or the Gottlieb for $350,000 or 
the Albers for $600,000 or the Lichtenstein 
dog for $380,000. Don't let them tell you 
that auctions aren't magic.
The night before, Sotheby's must have been 
sacrificing to the wrong idols. They just 
didn't have the mojo. In the friendly (read 
relentless) rivalry between the two houses, 
one rarely eclipses the other by more than 
a few percentage points. With Christie's 
totaling $30 million to Sotheby's $10 
million, however, it could be time for the 
latter to get some new chicken heads.
The estimates at Christie's were low and 
well considered and the lots went high. It 
was not until the end of the sale, where 
the house had segregated the overpriced and 
uninteresting material, that passed lots 
became the norm. A minor disappointment was 
the Rauschenburg featured on the catalogue 
cover; its sale brought no more than 
$700,000. Even so, it was an impressive 
evening. What can you say? "It dudn't get 
any better than this."
(P) (13%) = Passed lots, 8 in all. LOW 
(46%) = 1st column shows work that did not 
exceed the low estimate. MIDDLE (14%) = 2nd 
column shows work that exceeded the low 
estimate but not the high. HIGH (40%) = 3rd 
column shows work that exceeded the high 
estimate. Total volume at the hammer: 
$30,491,000. Prices do not include the 
auction house's commission (15% on the 
first $50,000, 10% on the remainder).


LOW
MIDDLE
HIGH
1.$65,000
2.$65,000
3.$130,000
4.$1,550,000
5. $140,000
6.$350,000
7. de Kooning$14,200,000
8. $65,000
9. $22,000
10. $95,000
11. $20,000
12.$170,000
13. $120,000
14. $300,000
15. $90,000
16. $220,000
17. $270,000
18. $85,000
19. $600,000
20. $380,000
21. $800,000
22.$280,000
23. $280,000
24. $245,000
25. $370,000
26.$680,000
27. $65,000
28.$380,000
29. $165,000
30. $140,000
31. $340,000
32. $3,600,000
33. $50,000
34. $200,000
35.$400,000
36. $220,000 (P)
37. $110,000
38. $250,000
39. $170,000 (P)
40. $370,000
41. $280,000
42. $700,000 Rauschenberg
43. $190,000
44. $300,000
45. $160,000
46. $180,000
47. $280,000
48. $100,000
49. withdrawn
50. $190,000
51. $120,000
52. $160,000
53. $170,000 (P)
54. $270,000 (P)
55. $90,0000 (P)
56. $110,000
57. $110,000
58. $85,000
59.$80,000 (P)
60. $150,000
61. $160,000 (P)
62. $110,000


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