Sotheby's Results - Contemporary Art Evening - May 14, 2008 Tonight’s auction at Sotheby’s of Contemporary Art, which totaled $362,037,000, was the best auction in the Company’s history (est. $288.1/356.7 million*)
5th century B. C. Greek playwright. The work was the centrepiece of Francis Bacon’s most important show of new work of the 1970s, held at the Galerie Claude Bernard in Paris in 1977, which closely documented Bacon’s unease and restless mind during that time. One of only three large-format triptychs in the Bernard exhibition, it was illustrated on the cover of the catalogue. Dense with symbolism, the three panels in Triptych, 1976, are filled with a complex, highly charged allegory and supreme paint-handling which shows Bacon’s imagination at its highest pitch. While living and working in Paris, Bacon produced one of his most powerful paintings on the subject and a masterpiece within his oeuvre. In Triptych, 1976, Bacon draws on Ancient Greek mythology to express his personal tragedy. The present work reveals in a single composition the entire range of Bacon’s iconography over three decades of painting, centering on the tortured figure of Prometheus, the bringer of fire to mankind and the subject of Aeschylus’ play Prometheus Bound. As punishment for this act, the gods chained Prometheus to a rock where
his perpetually regenerating liver is constantly gnawed by a bird of prey. The work was being offered from a Private European Collection. For Bacon sales history, please see the Note to Editors at the end of release.
The first offering of Property from the Collection of Helga and Walther Lauffs, one of the most extraordinary single-owner offerings of Contemporary Art to ever appear on the market, brought $96,105,000 (est. $47.1/65.2 million); further lots will be offered in tomorrow’s Day sale and in London later this year in sales of Contemporary Art and Prints**. The offering featured works by major artists ranging from Joseph Beuys, Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni, to Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Tom Wesselmann and Robert Rauschenberg, and comprises important representatives of Minimalism, Pop art, New Realism, Conceptual art and Arte Povera. Highlighting the offering were two works by Yves Klein, which twice broke the record for the artist, with his sumptuous gold Monochrome, MG 9, circa 1962, which brought $23,561,000, a record for the artist at auction (lot 13, est. $6/8 million), and his 1960 ultramarine masterpiece acquired in 1968, IKB 1, among the Lauffs’ first purchases, which achieved $17,401,000 (lot 14, est. $5/7 million). Records were also set for Tom Wesselmann, (Great American Nude no. 48), 1963, which achieved $10,681,000 (lot 50, est. $6/8 million) and Piero Manzoni’s Achrome, 1958, which realized $10,121,000 (lot 16, est. $4.5/6.5 million), as well as for works by Carl Andre and Joseph Beuys. Andy Warhol’s Set of Four Boxes: Brillo Box, Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box, Del Monte Peach Halves Box, Heinz Tomato Ketchup Box, created in 1961, set a record for a sculpture by the artist, selling for $4,745,000 (lot 31, est. $2/3 million) after extended bidding with interest by at least four bidders.
Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild, 1990, a colorful abstract work from the Collection of Edwin C. Cohen and Victoria Shaw (lot 23, est. $5/7 million), which