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Bowie Collector Breaks Records at Sotheby’s, London

The Bowie Collector’s two-day auction at Sotheby’s (concluded 11th November), broke all records. The ‘White Glove’ sale of Bowie’s art and design collection (meaning that all the lots were sold), surpassed pre-sale high estimates. The art collection was sold for £30.2 million (three times more than expected), while the design collection fetched an additional £10.8 million (ten times more than expected).

The Bowie Collector’s two-day auction at Sotheby’s (concluded 11th November), broke all records. The ‘White Glove’ sale of Bowie’s art and design collection (meaning that all the lots were sold), surpassed pre-sale high estimates. The art collection was sold for £30.2 million (three times more than expected), while the design collection fetched an additional £10.8 million (ten times more than expected).

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While it’s true that the figures didn’t reach the dizzy heights of Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’), which was auctioned last year at Christie’s New York for $179.4 million (nearly £143 million), 100% of the Bowie Collector lots were sold, and it was definitely a record-breaking night for art auctions. According to Sotheby’s, the Bowie Collector’s auction set new price records for 56 artists, with over 1,000 bidders participating online alone.

Part I of the Bowie Collector auction at Sotheby’s on 10th November attracted 765 collectors from 46 countries (the highest-ever for an evening sale in London), who registered to bid for the 47 works on offer. All of them were sold, totalling £24.3 million, more than twice Sotheby’s original estimation of between £8 and £11 million.

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Of the twelve bidding records set in the first session, eleven were for works by 20th Century British artists. Frank Auerbach’s Head of Gerda Boehm (1965) was battled for among eight bidders and sold in ten minutes (the longest bidding on a single lot) for £3.8 million, a new record for the artist, which previously stood at £2.3 million.

Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1965
Frank Auerbach, Head of Gerda Boehm, 1965

Peter Lanyon’s Witness also broke a record, being sold for £797,000 (previously set at £389,000). Other record-breaking artists of the night were Bernard Leach, Winifred Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Henry Lamb, Harold Gilman, Ivon Hitchens, Kenneth Armitage, Bryan Wynter, Patrick Caulfield and Meret Oppenheim.

Peter Lanyon 1918 - 1964 WITNESS signed and dated 61; also signed, dated April 1961 and titled on the reverse oil on canvas 183 by 122cm.; 72 by 48in.
Peter Lanyon
1918 – 1964
WITNESS
signed and dated 61; also signed, dated April 1961 and titled on the reverse
oil on canvas
183 by 122cm.; 72 by 48in.

Probably the most memorable moment of the evening was Basquiat’s Air Power auction, which reached the highest bid from a private collector, who paid £7,093,000. Quite a good price, considering that the most expensive-ever Basquiat: Untitled, was sold earlier in the year to Japanese tech powerhouse Yusaki Maezawa for $57,285,000 at Christie’s New York.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Atmosphere during the press preview of the personal Art Colelction of David Bowie 'Bowie/Collector' at Southerby's, New Bond Street on November 1, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Tim Whitby/ Getty Images for Sotherbys)
Atmosphere during the press preview of the personal Art Collection of David Bowie ‘Bowie/Collector’ at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, on November 1, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Tim Whitby/ Getty Images for Sotherbys)

Pieces sold on the second day made £8,594,250 (or $10,830,000), bringing the total to £32.9 million ($41.1 million). The first auction of the second day, “Modern and Contemporary Art,” raised £7,213,250, while the Ettore Sottsass and Memphis Group design auction, fetched £1,381,000.

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The highest bid went to Odd Nerdrum’s Dawn, which sold for £341,000 ($430,000), and Bowie’s amazing Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni record player, designed as a ‘musical pet’, that went for £257,000, ($324,000).

Odd Nerdrum B.1944 DAWN oil on canvas 190.7 by 283.5 cm.; 75 1/8 by 111 3/8 in. Executed in 1990.
Odd Nerdrum
B.1944
DAWN
oil on canvas
190.7 by 283.5 cm.; 75 1/8 by 111 3/8 in.
Executed in 1990.
Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Radio-Phonograph, Model no. RR126, designed 1966
Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, Radio-Phonograph, Model no. RR126, designed 1966

Bowie always enjoyed sharing the works in his collection, loaning to museums and actively supporting the art and artists during his life. He would have been very happy if he could have seen how many people visited Sotheby’s over the course of the ten-day pre-sale exhibition in London, which was the best attended pre-sale exhibition London has ever witnessed, with over 37,000 visitors taking the opportunity to view this unique collection.

 

Credits

Photographs courtesy of Sotheby's

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