Sotheby’s modern and contemporary auction at London proved to be successful with a net sale of $297 million, thanks to works by René Magritte and many others.
The auction featured 74 works, of which three works of artists David Hockney, René Magritte and Marino Marini came with in-house guarantees. 16 other works were guaranteed by third-party backers. The pre-sale estimate of the total revenues from the auction was between £170.4 million–£223.3 million ($229 million–$300 million). In the end, the total ended up at £221.4 million ($297.2 million) (which included premium), fitting right between the auction house’s estimate. 66 of the 74 works ended up getting sold. Sotheby’s success was comparable to Christie’s dual-city auction a day before.
René Magritte was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. His 1961 work, L’empire des lumières, fetched $79.8 million. This was more than thrice his previous record, Le Principe du Plaisir (1937), sold for $26.9 million at Sotheby’s in 2018. A work from Claude Monet, Nymphéas (1914), was also on the auction block. With premium, it sold for $31.2 million, which was the pre-sale high estimate for the work. On the other hand, David Hockney‘s painting Garrowby Hill (2017) saw the most active bidding war of the night. Despite its low estimate of $10.2 million, the work ended up getting hammered at $18.9 million.
Another interesting feature of Sotheby’s auction evening was the “Now” sale – an auction dedicated to works created in the last two decades. The sale saw a variety of works from modern artists, with the bidders mostly coming from the Asia-Pacific region. Shara Hughes’s Naked Lady (2019) was sold for $2.7 million. Warm, Wet ‘N’ Wild (2020) by Flora Yukhnovich was hammered for $3.6 million, a personal record for the artist.