Art Market

Sotheby’s had its biggest online auction ever, led by a large George Condo painting.

Justin Kamp
Apr 22, 2020 4:29PM, via Sotheby’s

George Condo, Antipodal Reunion, 2005. Sold for £1,035,000 ($1.2 million). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s notched its biggest total ever from an online auction yesterday, when the eighth edition of its Contemporary Curated sale in London brought in £5 million ($6.4 million), well ahead of its pre-sale high estimate of £4.6 million ($5.7 million). Over half of the lots sold exceeded their high estimates, making for a total sell-through rate of 88 percent by lot. The sale also saw a record price for a painting sold online by Sotheby’s.

Top lots:

  • The sale was led by George Condo’s large painting Antipodal Reunion (2005), which saw a series of rapid-fire bids push the Picasso-inspired painting’s hammer price beyond its high estimate of £800,000 ($987,000). It ultimately sold for £1,035,000 ($1,299,753) with fees, the highest price ever achieved by a painting in a Sotheby’s online sale.

Monir Farmanfarmaian, Geometry of Hope, 1975. Sold for £375,000 ($462,000). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

  • Monir Farmanfarmaian’s gilded glass work Geometry of Hope (1975) nearly reached its high estimate of £400,000 ($493,000), ultimately selling for £375,000 ($470,925), a new auction record for the artist.
  • The storied Turkish artist Fahrelnissa Zeid dazzled in her debut appearance at a Sotheby’s contemporary sale, with her 1965 oil painting Lunar Chiaroscuro exceeding its high estimate to sell for £250,000 ($313,950).

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Lunar Chiaroscuro, 1965. Sold for £250,000 ($308,000). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

With the international art market on lockdown, online sales look to be a vital lifeline for auction houses moving forward. Contemporary Curated, originally scheduled as a live auction, was converted to an online sale, making it the 18th online auction at Sotheby’s since March 20th. The house’s auctions over the past month have realized roughly $37 million in total sales, which is nearly half of the annual total of $80 million for dedicated online sales handled by Sotheby’s in 2019.

The firm has a total of 43 sales scheduled for April and May (three of which close today), including two newly-scheduled online versions of its contemporary art and Impressionist and modern art day sales, which are scheduled to open on May 4th. Competitors Christie’s and Phillips are also currently conducting online-only sales of contemporary art.

Invader, Red Rubik Phantom, 2007. Sold for £162,500 ($200,000). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Justin Kamp
Get the Artsy app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019