Sotheby’s breaks record with George Condo piece at £1.03 mil

George Condo, ‘Antipodal Reunion’ (2005) is auctioned off for £1,035,000. (Sotheby’s pic)

NEW YORK: Sotheby’s broke records on Tuesday, April 22 with the eighth edition of its “Contemporary Curated” sale, scheduled as a live auction in London before the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Contemporary Curated” brought in over £5.0 million, surpassing its pre-sale high estimate of £4.6 million, and becoming Sotheby’s highest-ever total for an online sale.

While over half of the lots on offer exceeded their pre-sale estimates, the auction was led by George Condo’s 2005 masterwork, “Antipodal Reunion.”

A series of quick-fire bids pushed the colossal painting, which bears similarity to Pablo Picasso’s “The Bathers,” ahead of its high pre-sale estimate of £800,000.

“Antipodal Reunion” finally went under the hammer for £1,035,000 with fees, marking the highest price ever achieved for a painting in an online sale at Sotheby’s.

Elsewhere in “Contemporary Curated,” Yayoi Kusama’s “Star” sold for £237,500 ($298,252), while Andy Warhol’s “Crosses” soared five times beyond its pre-sale estimate to fetch £106,250.

Fahrelnissa Zeid’s “Lunar Chiaroscuro” defied expectations by achieving £250,000 for the Turkish artist’s debut appearance at a Sotheby’s contemporary sale.

Additionally, the Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian also achieved her highest price at any international auction house with “Geometry of Hope,” which nearly achieved its high pre-sale estimate of £400,000 and ultimately sold for £375,000.

The online sale also saw competitive bidding for Damien Hirst’s “Dotriacontane” that soared above its estimate to reach £118,750, while 13 bids helped Invader’s “Red Rubik Phantom” achieve £162,500.

“Contemporary Curated” attracted bidders from 36 countries, with Sotheby’s announcing that over a third of them were participating in one of the house’s auctions for the first time.

These statistics are reminiscent of the ones collected during the auction house’s mid-season Design sale, which brought in the highest figure ever recorded for a 20th-century design auction held online.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic pushed Sotheby’s to expand its calendar of dedicated online auctions, amassing almost US$26 million across 14 digital sales held this past March.

The house has since announced that 43 dedicated online sales will be held in April and May, including “Contemporary Art Day Auction Online” (open for bidding between May 4 and 14) and “Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale Online” (open for bidding from May 4 through 15).