Post-War To Present Sale Achieves Its Highest Total: $34,409,820

On 1 October 2021, in a historic first for a leading auction house, Christie’s accepted live bids in the cryptocurrency Ether, selling the first lot of the Post-War to Present sale, Curio Cards, a Full set of 30 cards plus 17b. for ETH393 ($1,267,320). This set of 31 NFTs is considered to be some of the oldest artworks on the Ethereum blockchain.

The auction achieved its highest total of $34,409,820, with a strong depth of bidding of 145% hammer above the low estimate.

The sale, which brought together leading examples of contemporary art, NFTs, and design saw strong participation throughout its entirety. It was led by two abstract paintings from the post-war era, that each sold for $2,670,000; Helen Frankenthaler’s Warming the Wires, and Philip Guston’s The Clock II. Guston’s work surpassed its presale estimate of $280,000 – 350,000 by nearly tenfold, selling for 954% of its low estimate.

CURIO CARDS (EST. 2017)
Full set of 30 cards plus 17b
Price Realized: ETH393
Auctioneer Rahul Kadakia sells Curio Cards for ETH393

Isabella Lauria, Christie’s Specialist, Head of Post-War to Present Sale, remarks: “The overwhelming success of today’s sale is mainly a result of having the privilege of offering top quality artworks at attractive estimates, appealing to clients across the globe, and drawing incredible depth of bidding on lots at all price points, as we saw with works by Guston, Benglis, and Frankenthaler far exceeding their high estimates and setting new market benchmarks.

We are particularly thrilled to have represented the legacy of Ernie Barnes in his long-overdue debut on a worldwide sale platform.”

Successful results were also seen by Yoshitomo Nara’s 1, 2, 3…; which was expected to achieve $550,000 – 750,000 and sold for $2,070,000. The sale saw strong performances by a number of female artists, ranging from the Abstract Expressionists era through the contemporary period.

Highlights included Mickalene Thomas’s Portrait of Aaliyah, which more than doubled its high estimate of $300,000 to realize $625,000; Joan Mitchell’s Little Rain, which sold for $475,000; Lynda Benglis’s Devaux, which achieved $450,000, a new auction world record for the artist, and Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkins which surpassed its high estimate of $1,500,000 to sell for $1,950,000.

The sale was also highlighted by a wonderful group of works by Wayne Thiebaud from the Collection of the Frances Hamilton White Trust. The group was 100% sold and was led by Ridge Valley Farm Study, which totaled $990,000.

A seminal group of works by Charles White and Ernie Barnes from the collection of Hollywood producer Danny Arnold was 100% sold, with strong performances throughout, establishing a new auction world record for Ernie Barnies. Charles White’s Black Man was the top performer of the grouping, selling for $587,500.

New auction world records were achieved by Lynda Benglis, Ernie Barnes, Gary Vaynerchuk, Roberto Fabelo, Dorothy Fratt, and rising contemporary artist Wonder Buhle Mbambo whose work The Hearts sold for over triple its estimate of $30,000 – 50,000 to realize $175,000.
The sale concluded with the conceptual art video NFT White Male for Sale by artist Dread Scott which sold for $32,500 to an online bidder.

SALE HIGHLIGHTS

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE FRANCES HAMILTON WHITE TRUST WAYNE THIEBAUD (B. 1920)
Ridge Valley Farms Study oil on panel 12 ⅝ x 17 ⅛ in. Painted in 2001.
Price Realized: $990,000

YOSHITOMO NARA (B. 1959)
1, 2, 3… acrylic on panel, in artist’s wooden frame 48 ¾ x 71 x 2 ½ in. Executed in 2006.
Price Realized: $2,070,000

YAYOI KUSAMA (B. 1929)
Pumpkins acrylic on canvas 15 x 17 7/8 in. Painted in 1987.
Price Realized: $1,950,000

FRAGMENTS OF LIFE: WORKS BY CHARLES WHITE AND ERNIE BARNES FROM THE COLLECTION OF DANNY AND DONNA ARNOLD ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009)
The Disco acrylic on canvas 29 ⅞ x 39 ¾ in. Painted in 1978.
Price Realized: $287,500

FRAGMENTS OF LIFE: WORKS BY CHARLES WHITE AND ERNIE BARNES FROM THE COLLECTION OF DANNY AND DONNA ARNOLD CHARLES WHITE (1918-1979)
Black Man charcoal and crayon on paper 18 ½ x 33 ½ in. Executed in 1965.
Price Realized: $587,500

FRAGMENTS OF LIFE: WORKS BY CHARLES WHITE AND ERNIE BARNES FROM THE COLLECTION OF DANNY AND DONNA ARNOLD ERNIE BARNES (1938-2009)
The Pulpiteer oil on canvas 29 7/8 x 40 in. Painted in 1972.
Price Realized: $275,000

JOAN MITCHELL (1925-1992)
Little Rain diptych—oil on canvas 13 x 18 ⅞ in. Painted in 1989.
Price Realized: $475,000

ELAINE DE KOONING (1919-1989)
Echo Wall (Cave #68) acrylic on canvas 84 x 66 in. Painted in 1986/1988.
Price Realized: $325,000

WONDER BUHLE MBAMBO (B. 1989)
The Hearts acrylic on canvas 46 1/8 x 58 1/8 in. Painted in 2021.
Price Realized: $175,000

LYNDA BENGLIS (B. 1941)
Devaux bronze wire mesh, sprayed zinc, copper, and nickel-chrome plating 48 x 33 x 14 ½ in. Executed in 1987.
Price Realized: $450,000

ALLISON ZUCKERMAN (B. 1990)
Woodland Muse acrylic and archival CMYK ink on canvas 84 x 66 in. Executed in 2018.
Price Realized: $250,000

MICKALENE THOMAS (B. 1971)
Portrait of Aaliyah acrylic, oil, oil stick, paper collage, and rhinestones on panel mounted on panel 48 ⅛ x 60 x 2 in. Executed in 2018.
Price Realized: $625,000

Christies

editor

Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had auction sales in the first half of 2019 that totalled £2.2 billion / $2.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectables, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

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