Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction set the art world on fire Thursday when Banksy’s hotly-anticipated Devolved Parliament smashed its pre-sale estimate, soaring to £9.9 million and setting a new world record sale for the artist, Banksy.
The monumental canvas, which made headlines around the world even before its appearance in the Sotheby’s London galleries, sparked a 13-minute bidding battle on the phones and in the room.
Alongside the Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s electric 1984 canvas Pyro also achieved £9.9 million, confirming the appetite of collectors eager to secure a piece of Pop Art history. The spirited work was followed by Basquiat’s Natives Carrying Things, which achieved £3.3 million.
Watch Sotheby’s video of Basquiat’s Pyro selling for £9.9 million
Against the backdrop of Frieze Week, these works were joined by several other extraordinary paintings, demonstrating the breadth of works from the post-war period.
Two works by Albert Oehlen, Ingwertopf (Ginger Pot) and Geigenbau (Lutherie)continues the upward swing of Oehlen’s position in the market, selling for £915,000 and £1.8 million respectively, as a major retrospective of Oehlen’s work opens at the Serpentine Galleries, sponsored by Sotheby’s.
Other highlights of the night included Jean Dubuffet’s Mélancolie, from the celebrated Paris Circus series, inspired a lengthy bidding battle between eight collectors, eventually selling for £2.6 million.
It was not just a strong evening for painting, however, with Lucio Fontana’s exquisite Concetto Spaziale, Natura, also hammering down for £2.5 million — securing a new record for a sculpture by Fontana.
Strength in the market for works by women artists was reinforced through the sale of Nicole Eisenman’s 2015 painting Close to the Edge, which sold for £639,000, marking the first appearance at Sotheby’s for the artist, and Cecily Brown’s The Year of the Scavenger that was inspired by a The Jimi Hendrix Experience album cover and reached £1.6 million.
These successes were joined by a record for Salvatore Scarpitta, whose Housing Developed broke the previous price record for the Italian artist, at £2.5 million. Results for the full sale, which made a total of £54,723,750, can be viewed here.