Christie’s London Sale to Test European Economy


Timed to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair, Christie’s will offer on Oct. 14–15 in London, 314 lots of modern and contemporary art for an anticipated combined pre-sale estimate of £57 million ($88.1 million).

Adviser Lisa Schiff told A.i.A. she was optimistic about the sale, indicating that economic restraints, particularly in Europe, lead to higher quality lots. “Since 2008, there has been a flight to quality work that has not wavered,” she said. “The volatility in the stock market over the last year has led more and more high-net-worth individuals to move money from the stock market into the art market–a better asset allocation.” The current dollar-to-pound rate makes it an ideal time in particular for wealthy American collectors to buy, she added.

The most expensive lot in the catalogue is Kerze, an iconic work from 1982 by Gerard Richter, which is offered at an estimate of £6-9 million (9.1–14 million). A similar work from the same series sold for £7,972,500 ($15,843,600) at Sotheby’s London in February 2008, and it represents the top price ever paid for a work by the German artist at auction.

The Kerze painting on offer is one of the finest examples of Richter’s Candle series, and has not been seen publicly since 1986. It is expected to perform especially well at auction, as its sale coincides with the artist’s retrospective, opening Oct. 6 at Tate Modern.

Among other highlights in the Christie’s catalogue is a group of four works by Richard Prince led by the painting Nurse Forrester’s Secret (2002­–2003), estimated at £2,1­ 3 million ($3.2­4.7 million), and the photo Untitled (Cowboy), 1999, estimated at £1­1.5 million ($1.6­2.3 million). In 2003, the same work, a unique piece, fetched US$406,500 at Phillips de Pury & Co. , New York.

British contemporary sculpture is represented by a human scale maquette for Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North; Damien Hirst’s Judas Iscariot, a bull’s head under formaldehyde dated 1994; and Ron Mueck’s hyperreal Man Under Cardigan, one of the artist’s early works dated 1998.

Works by Piero Manzoni, Alighiero Boetti and Lucio Fontana are the backbone of the Italian Sale, on Oct. 14 after the Post War and Contemporary evening auction. 47 lots combine for a pre-sale estimate of £15 million ($23.2 million).