Christie's led the fall auction season yesterday with its "First Open" Post-War and Contemporary Art auction. The sale appeals to buyers at many levels, with lots ranging in price from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand; it's a warm-up to the highly competitive and highly watched November sales. But people were not just watching (for once, in recent months), they were bidding, dealers and private collectors and at times quite competitively. (LEFT: LOT 35, ANDY WARHOL, FLOWERS, 1964)

Andy Warhol stole the morning, becoming the second highest price paid for a lot in an "off-season sale." Lot 35, Flowers, a punchy, brightly colored silkscreen on canvas from 1964 was estimated at $500,000–700,000. At least seven or eight bidders vied for the lot, which ultimately sold for $1,082,500 (prices include buyer's premium) to an advisor for an anonymous private client. Notable prices went for Roni Horn: Stevens Bouquet, an aluminum and Plexiglass sculpture from 1991, was purchased by a European dealer for $242,500 against an estimate of $70,000–100,000. Adolph Gottlieb, Flat Black, oil on paper (1970) went for $134,500 against an estimate of $90–120,000, a good price for a work on paper, with or without a recession. Takashi Murakami Flower of Joy—Yellow Ochre, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on panel from 2007, sold to a dealer for $116,500 against an estimate of $70-90,000. There were some rough patches as well, out of the 155 lots offered, 129 sold the sale total was 4,408,750 which translated into 88% sold by dollar and 83% sold by lot, according to the auction house.

Prices for post-war lots were respectable. A beautiful early Conrad Marca-relli, Untitled, had a low ball estimate of $10,000–15,000, and collectors responded favorably. The work fetched $86,500, and went to a dealer. Specialist for the sale Alexandre Carel, was pleased with the results and said "overall it was a strong sale, dealers and privates were both active." Word on the street is that it has been tough to sign up some of the big lots for November. Sotheby's mid-season sale is the next sale to watch.