Art Market

Market Brief: Record-Breaking Auction Results for Claire Tabouret, Salman Toor, and Others

Shannon Lee
May 14, 2021 7:20PM

Jonas Wood, Two Tables with Floral Patterns, 2013. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

Salman Toor, The Arrival, 2019. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

The latest

This past week, a flurry of sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York saw an impressive number of artists’ auction records broken. On Tuesday, the “21st Century” evening sale at Christie’s had a sell-through rate of 95 percent, achieving a total of $210 million with 11 artists’ auction records broken. Meanwhile, the trio of marquee sales at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night brought in a total sum of $597 million, with the sold-out contemporary art sale bringing in $218 million. The week also featured day sales of contemporary art in which both houses tested out the markets for rising stars, setting new records for a slew of younger artists.

Standout lots

Nina Chanel Abney, Untitled (XXXXXX), 2015. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

  • In the “21st Century” evening sale at Christie’s on Tuesday, Nina Chanel Abney’s Untitled (XXXXXX) (2015) sold for $990,000, soaring past its $300,000 high estimate and obliterating the artist’s previous record of $285,243 set by Paradise Found (2009) at Sotheby’s in 2019. Skyrocketing demand for Abney’s work on Artsy has quickly made her one of the most inquired-about women artists on the platform, moving from 119th place in 2016 to eighth place thus far in 2021.
  • The Christie’s sale also saw Jonas Wood’s Two Tables with Floral Patterns (2013) outpace its $4-million high estimate to sell for a total of $6.5 million, breaking the artist’s previous record of $4.9 million, set by Japanese Garden 3 (2019) at Christie’s in 2019. The number of inquiries per available work by Wood on Artsy has been on the decline year-over-year since 2018, but thus far in 2021 demand for his work has positioned him among the top 30 most inquired-about artists on the platform.

Claire Tabouret, Les débutantes (bleu azur), 2014. Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2021.

  • At Sotheby’s contemporary art evening sale on Wednesday, Salman Toor’s The Arrival (2019) sold for more than 10 times its $80,000 high estimate, bringing in $867,000 and breaking the artist’s previous record of $822,000, set last year by Rooftop Party with Ghosts 1 (2015) at Christie’s. A member of The Artsy Vanguard 2020, Toor has seen astronomical year-over-year demand on the platform, with the number of inquiries on his works quadrupling from 2018 to 2019, tripling from 2019 to 2020, and continuing to climb this year.
  • Claire Tabouret’s Les débutantes (bleu azur) (2014) broke the artist’s auction record at Christie’s day sale of post-war and contemporary art on Friday, selling for $870,000 on a $300,000 high estimate—just over her previous auction record of £622,500 ($862,229), set by The Last Day (2016) at a Christie’s sale in London this past March. On Artsy, demand for work by Tabouret has been steadily building year over year, with the number of inquiries increasing by about 63% from 2019 to 2020 alone.


This past March, Abney collaborated with Nike on its bespoke “Every Stitch Considered” campaign and announced a restock of her previously sold-out deck of “Uno” playing cards, further broadening her already enormous mass market appeal. Pop culture also seems to be favoring Wood in recent months; earlier this month he posted photos on Instagram of the rapper Drake admiring works at his studio. Wood will also be included in Gagosian’s group presentation at Art Basel in Hong Kong next week, affirming the strong demand for his work in Asia. Meanwhile, Toor and Tabouret’s market ascents are poised to continue. In less than two weeks, Toor’s The Burden (2015) will be coming up for auction at Christie’s in Hong Kong with a high estimate of HK$1.2 million (about US$155,000). And following Tabouret’s solo shows at Perrotin and Night Gallery last year, collectors can expect to see more of her works surface at auction before long.

Shannon Lee