Francis Bacon painting sold for $ 84 million in surreal ‘hybrid’ virtual auction

Francis Bacon painting sold for $ 84 million in surreal 'hybrid' virtual auction

Written by Oscar Netherlands, CNN

one Francis Bacon In a virtual auction at Sotheby’s, triponch sold over $ 84 million, an encouraging and unusual evening for the coronavirus-hit art market.

With a live auctioneer from London and phone offers from New York and Hong Kong, the artist’s 1981 artwork “Triptic Inspired by Aeschylus Oresteia” exceeded pre-sales estimates between $ 60 million and $ 80 million.

On Monday evening, the marathon sale first attempted the “hybrid” auction format, which showed that Sotheby’s head of Sotheby’s Europe received bid from agents around the world from the screen wall. In a press release, Barker described the experience as “being at the epicenter of a cinematic production.”

Sotheby first

Sotheby’s first “hybrid” auction rises above $ 363 million for auction house Credit: Sotheby’s

Bidders were also able to offer online offers by ending a 10-minute battle in Bacon’s picture with a two-horse race between a web user in China and an unidentified phone bidder. According to Sotheby’s, the $ 84.6 million final price tag offered by the latter shows the third highest amount ever paid for the artist’s work at the auction.

There were other positive signs in the evening event, consisting of three separate sales. “Licensed Brushstroke I” by Roy Lichtenstein for $ 25.4 million Jean-Michel Basquiat“Untitled (Head)” reached a new world auction record of $ 15.2 million for the artist to work on paper.

The evening made a total of $ 363.2 million for Sotheby’s, 93% of the artworks finally sold. According to Gregoire Billault, the head of the auction house’s contemporary art department in New York, is a good start for the coming months.

“Tonight, even at very difficult times, it was a very clear demonstration that the market was there if you came at the right price (artwork) at the right prices,” he said. In the current climate, auctions were “a risk”.

“It will definitely affect what we do in the future,” he added. “I don’t know if we’re going to repeat (this full format), but we know it’s possible and working.”

Difficulties continue

Nevertheless, troubled times of an industry that has been prevented from being able to sell live continues. Sotheby’s, forcing crashes and auction houses around the world to cancel and postpone events, has already laughed and laid off staff amid a crash in revenue.

Despite efforts to increase digital offers in recent months, the top spot in the art market is still heavily dependent on live sales and face-to-face views. Revenue from online auctions alone represents relative pocket change for large homes – only $ 80 million of the total $ 4.8 billion produced by Sotheby’s in 2019 came from the web.

How do art auctions really work?

The auction house, however, has made efforts to compensate for the lack of physical events. “Contemporary” sale new online registration When he made more than $ 6.4 million in April with works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. $ 1.3 million paid for George Condo’s “Antipodal Reunion” may represent only part of the sums seen on Monday evening, but it was the largest Sotheby ever collected for a work of art only through online offers.

But although the apparent success of this “hybrid” auction is undoubtedly a relief, there are questions about appetite for blue chip art amidst the global economic downturn. Moreover, the Bacon official pandemic was delivered long before waiting in the West, which means that potential buyers can see artwork in Hong Kong and London closely before sale.

Whether potential sellers still want to put a lot of million dollars of art on sale in the current climate, or will they jump into big ticket products that buyers can’t personally review?

Still, Billault struck an upbeat chord, saying that Sotheby’s can still “send incredible artifacts in the Covid era”.

“After all these hard times, we sent signals to the art market, fairs were canceled and museums closed,” he adds, “a vote of confidence for both sellers and buyers.”

Best view: “Triptic Inspired by Aeschylus Oresteia,” 1981, Francis Bacon

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