Unlike the Impressionist and modern sales on Sunday and Monday nights, where the expected top lots at both Christie’s and Sotheby’s failed to sell, there were no flops at Sotheby’s on Wednesday. Finishing the evening just two lots away from a white glove sale is remarkable, and demonstrates strength in the contemporary market despite increased economic volatility.
Grégoire Billault, post-war and contemporary department head at Sotheby’s, said the house is focused on ensuring that it takes advantage of a strong market while it can, without getting distracted by a sense of competition.
“There’s a lot of speculation about the market—the stock market and the economy in general—but clearly, you can see that the market is responding well,” Billault said at the press conference.
“We never try to be the biggest, we try to be the smartest, and the plan was well-executed tonight,” he added, in a nod to Christie’s.
The $327.1 million low estimate for the rival house’s post-war and contemporary sale on Thursday is just shy of Sotheby’s projected high for Wednesday. Tomorrow’s star lot alone, ’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)
(1972), would bring in a third of the Sotheby’s total sale if it goes for the $80 million estimated—and would make Hockney the most expensive living artist