Rebuffing speculation that the bottom has dropped out of the market for young and emerging artists, two of the seven records at Christie’s were for artists under 40:
. Ghenie’s Nickelodeon
(2008) sparked a bidding contest among at least six hopefuls, rising to almost five times its high estimate of £1.5 million to sell to a European buyer for £7.1 million, a new record for the artist. The Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac was an underbidder. Outred says the key with young artists is to keep the estimates attractive. “People have got tired of the estimates for some of the young and more fashionable names,” he says.
Speculation continues as to whether Brexit will harm or help the London trade, but the consensus is that foreigners were incentivized to bid at this week’s auctions as the pound slumped to a 31-year low. “If the Ghenie had sold last year for £7 million, it would have converted to $12 million; this year it was $9 million,” Outred points out. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips all noted strong bidding from Asia, the U.S., and Europe.
was one of the hits of the week; some in the trade have predicted that his market is poised for a comeback. Prices for the YBA’s works hit rock bottom during the recession, but the opening earlier this year of Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery
in south London to display works from his collection appears to be boosting his own career.
Two Hirst canvases—one, Salvation (2003), covered in butterflies, the other, Damnation (2004), covered in flies—both doubled their estimates at Christie’s to sell for £665,000 and £485,000, respectively. The Los Angeles-based dealer and artist agent Stefan Simchowitz bought both works on behalf of a client. “Damien’s market has found its bottom as people have had the opportunity to collect him at more affordable prices, as it should be,” Simchowitz says. “It can now stabilize and regain its strength.” An early spot painting from 1992, painted by Hirst himself rather than one of his assistants, sold at Phillips on Wednesday for £509,000 (est. £300,000–500,000).