Arts & Entertainment

Lichtenstein painting fetches $46 mn in Christie’s global art auction

By Helen Cook

New York, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- A Roy Lichtenstein work titled “Nude with Joyous Painting” fetched more than $46 million on Friday in a nearly four-hour Christie’s global art auction held in consecutive sessions at salerooms in Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York.

The event, “One: A Global Sale of the 20th Century,” was jointly led by Christie’s main auctioneers, attracted buyers from all over the world and was streamed via Internet.

The combined price of all the artwork sold on Friday was nearly $420.1 million.

Sold during the New York portion of the auction for $46.2 million, including fees and taxes, Lichtenstein’s work – painted in his signature “Ben-day” dot style – was completed just three years before his death in 1997 at the age of 73 and forms part of the American pop artist’s last series of large nudes.

Among the items up for sale in the Hong Kong session was a painting by German visual artist Gerhard Richter titled “Frost (1),” which fetched 80 million Hong Kong dollars (more than $10 million), easily surpassing the estimated maximum price.

Christie’s said the painting “exemplifies the artist’s practice of continually laying down and then subsequently scraping off layers of paint with a squeegee, resulting in a fractured surface.”

Also eclipsing expectations was Japanese avant-garde painter Takeo Yamaguchi’s “Yellow Quadrangle,” which sold for more than 15.1 million Hong Kong dollars, or five times the maximum value estimated by the auction house.

Paris was then the venue for the auction’s second phase, which was highlighted by the sale of French painter Jean Dubuffet’s “Pourleche fiston” for more than 6.5 million euros, including fees and taxes. That was well above the high estimate of 5 million euros for that work, which Christie’s said “represents the kaleidoscopic fusion of two worlds.”

The auction subsequently moved on to London, where just a handful of socially distanced people sat in attendance facing the auctioneer.

Rene Magritte’s monumental “L’Arc de Triomphe” – a painting of a tree, not the 19th-century Parisian landmark – fetched the biggest payout among the 18 lots up for bid in the British capital.

It had been valued at between 6.5 million pounds (roughly $8.2 million) and 9.5 million pounds but ended up selling for nearly 17.8 million pounds.

A long bidding war between one buyer from Hong Kong and another from London for British painter David Hockney’s “Jade Plant” lifted that work’s final price to nearly 4.2 million pounds, well above its initial range of between 1.5 million pounds and 2.5 million pounds.

In the final leg in New York, the highest-valued work after Lichtenstein’s was “Les femmes d’Alger (Version F)” by Pablo Picasso, which exceeded the estimated price and fetched $29.2 million.

Christie’s explained that the Spanish cubist master created a series of 15 canvases based on Eugene Delacroix’s same-titled masterpiece but that the F version stands out in part because it conveys the “hothouse atmosphere of a harem” more than any of the other paintings in the series.

Two other works by Picasso also were sold during the New York session.

“Baigneuses au ballon” fetched more than $4.5 million, more than double the estimated maximum price, while “Baigneuses, sirenes, femme nue et minotaure” was sold for $8.1 million, within the expected range.

Barnett Newman’s “Onement V” and fellow American artist Brice Marden’s “Complements” were each sold for a lower-than-expected $30.9 million, including fees and taxes.

Even so, that was a record-high payout for a Marden painting, while the $19.1 million paid for 99-year-old American painter Wayne Thiebaud’s “Four Pinball Machines” also was an unprecedented sum for one of his works.

Other pieces sold in the final stage of the auction were Argentine Lucio Fontana’s “Concetto Spaziale, Attesa” for nearly $8.8 million, Spanish painter Joan Miro’s “Peinture” for $6.1 million and American painter Georgia O’Keeffe’s “From Pink Shell” for nearly $5.1 million. EFE-EPA

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