You are here
Fontana US$24.7m egg painting leads Sotheby's London sales
[NEW YORK] Lucio Fontana's egg-shaped canvas fetched £15.9 million (US$24.7 million), establishing an auction record for the artist and leading a sale marathon at Sotheby's.
The auctioneer tallied £76.7 million in two evening sales - one offering postwar Italian art, the other contemporary works - a 10 per cent increase from the equivalent auctions a year ago.
The auctions coincide with this week's Frieze Art Fair and dozens of satellite events around the UK capital. Sotheby's, Christie's and smaller rival Phillips are seeking to sell as much as £260.8 million of art combined. The results are seen as the first true test of the art market's health since the stock market rout in August and September rattled global investors.
"October is the best sale season in London," said Amy Cappellazzo, a founder and principal of Art Agency Partners in New York. "The critical mass of people is here." More than 10,000 people attended Sotheby's previews this week, the company said. Thursday night's Italian sale brought a big crowd, with standing room scarce.
"I can't imagine the room any fuller," auctioneer Oliver Barker said after the event. "It felt like an Italian embassy." The 1963 Fontana work, "Concetto Spaziale, La Fine di Dio (The End of God)," which is part of the artist's most coveted series, had been estimated at £15 million to £20 million. The human-size eggs, which come in various colors and are punctured on the surface, now account for Fontana's top three prices at auction, according to Artnet.
Sotheby's got a third party to guarantee that the work would sell. The only bid, at 14.1 million pounds, came from Cheyenne Westphal, Sotheby's co-head of contemporary art worldwide, who was on the phone with a client.
The Italian sale tallied £40.4 million, within the estimated range but a slight decline from £41.4 million sold in 2014. Eleven of the 51 offered lots failed to find buyers.
The casualties included two paintings by Fontana, of the 12 offered. A large number of works by the Italian artist were available this week at Frieze and in galleries. Tornabuoni Art London opened a Fontana exhibition last week, featuring a white, pierced egg painting.