Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening auction on Wednesday totalled £88 million ($144,6 million). The top lot of the sale was Gerhard Richter’s monumental Wand (Wall) (1994) which sold for £17,4 million ($27,8 million), up from an initial estimate of £15 million. This is the third highest price for any painting by the artist, and the second highest price for one of his abstract works.
The painting, never before seen at auction, was held by Richter to be a work of such importance that he chose to keep it in his personal collection for over 15 years, singling it out as a keynote work for many important museum exhibitions.
Over two-thirds of the works offered at Wednesday night’s sale had never been seen at auction, including Cy Twombly’s Untitled (Rome), Alberto Burri’s Rosso Plastica, Lucian Freud’s Head on a Green Sofa and Frank Auerbach’s Morning – Mornington Place.
Also, a new auction record was set for a painting by Cy Twombly when Untitled (Rome) from 1964 sold significantly above estimate to a round of applause for £12,2 million ($20 million), from an estimate of £5-7 million. That is the second highest price ever paid for any work by the artist after his Poems to the Sea, which had set a new benchmark in New York in November ($21,7 million). Never before offered at auction, this painting was acquired by the consignor in the 1970s.
Andy Warhol’s red canvas Mao (1973) was sought after by three bidders before selling for £7,6 million ($12,5 million) from an estimate of £5,5-7,5 million – almost 20 times the sum it sold for when last at auction (at Sotheby’s London June 2000 £421,500).