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Postwar auction at Christie’s fetch $325.4M, Ed Ruscha goes for $52.5M

The Postwar and Contemporary art auction at Christie’s on Tuesday was a success by all means. With a tally of $325.3 million, the event at Rockefeller Center saw some great deals and personal records for many artists. The highest sale stood at an impressive $52.5 million for artist Ed Ruscha.

Considering the pre-sale expectations of $267.8 million – $394.3 million, the sale sat comfortably at the middle (though the actual amount without buyer’s premium stood at $279.8 million). The tally fell short by just $32 million compared to last year. Christie’s auction in November last year collected a solid $357.6 million, while David Hockney’s Portrait Of An Artist fetched an astonishing $90.4 million. Out of the 54 lots offered initially, 48 managed to find buyers. Forty-five works managed to fetch more than a million dollars, while three actually got more than $20 million.

The biggest star of the night was undoubtedly Ed Ruscha, whose painting was sold at a record $52.5 million. Titled Hurting The Word Radio, the painting shows the letters of the word “Radio” getting strangled by cuffs. The sale not only exceeded the initial estimates but also broke the artist’s previous record at $30.4 million for Smash.

Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali, 1977
Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali, 1977

The sale began with Rashid Johnson’s Untitled Anxious Audience that fetched $879,000 (almost thrice more than the estimates). Andy Warhol’s celebrity figure series was also put to the sale, along with some other works. His Mohammad Ali was sold for $10 million while Big Electric Chair fetched $19 million. David Hockney’s sombre painting Sur la Terrasse was sold at $29.5 million. Gerhard Richter’s Vogelfluglinie, which only recently entered the market, fetched $20.5 million.

The season-opening auction that began on Monday would now continue on Thursday at Philips and Sotheby’s.