Record for Jasper Johns’ 1983 Flag at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale in NY – November 11th, 2014

9221 Jasper Johns Flag

Contemporary Art has achieved $460,268,000 at Sotheby’s so far this week, including works by Rothko, Diebenkorn and Lucio Fontana from The Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon sold last evening for a total of $116.6 million. Tonight’s auction saw a sell through rate of 85.9%, marking the 13th consecutive Evening Sale of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s New York with a sell-through rate of over 80%.

The sale was led by Mark Rothko’s No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) from The Schlumberger Collection which was sought by five bidders before selling for $44,965,000 to applause:

  • The pivotal canvas from 1951 has been in The Schlumberger Collection – the magnificent compendium of Modern and Contemporary masterworks acquired by

distinguished collectors and benefactors Pierre and São Schlumberger, for over 40 years and was last seen in public in 1970.

  • Other Schlumberger Collection works that performed well included Jean Dubuffet’s Cité Fantoche which set a record for the artist when it sold for $7,445,000 (est.

$4/6 million).

Jasper Johns’ 1983 Flag is among the most recognizable works of American Art and sold tonight for $36,005,000 to set a new record for the artist at auction after an extended contest between six bidders (est. $15/20 million): acquired from the artist in 1983, the year it was made, and has remained in the same private collection since.

Top prices for Andy Warhol portraits included Liz #3 (Early Colored Liz) the portrait of Elizabeth Taylor on a distinctive mint background achieved $31,525,000, Brigitte Bardot from the Gunter Sachs Collection sold for $11,645,000, and Self-Portrait (Fright Wig) fetched $11,365,000.

Strong Prices For Abstraction:

  • The 1961 Untitled Robert Ryman fetched $15,005,000, doubling the previous record for the artist which has stood since 2006 and several times the $500,000 the work brought when it last appeared at auction in 1988.
  • Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild from 1991 drew multiple bidders to fetch $21,445,000 (est. $15/20 million).
  • Christopher Wool’s Halloween Fell on a Weekend from 2004 sells for $8,005,000, to exceed the high estimate.
  • An Untitled Cy Twombly work on paper is sought by six bidders before exceeding the high estimate to sell for $5,205,000 to a bidder in the room.

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