Contemporary Art Sale: Bonhams Achieves World Record Prices

Wols (1913-1951), L’Explosion de la Cathedrale, 1946. Image courtesy of Bonhams

Wols (1913-1951), L’Explosion de la Cathedrale, 1946. Sold for £134,500($ 230,581) during Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale in London.  Image: Bonhams


Bonhams Achieves World Record Prices during Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale in London

LONDON— At the just concluded Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art sale in London, Holland made a great showing.  A painting sourced in Holland contributed immensely to the total of £4,041,025 realized during the auction.  The work by German artist Wols (1913-1951) titled L’Explosion de la Cathedrale, 1946, sold for £134,500($ 230,581) against a pre-sale estimate of £12,000 to £18,000.

The strong showing of Wols’s work is already generating a lot of excitement at Bonhams about great prospect in Netherlands.  Koen Samson, Bonhams Representative in Holland, says: “The Netherlands is an art treasure trove so it is not surprising that some very fine works are finding their way to our sales in London, New York, and Hong Kong. This work was sourced from a Dutch private collection, directly bought from the artist and was of very good quality and fresh to the market, all elements that drove its price. We believe that this is the highest price achieved by this artist at auction – a world record for the artist.”

The discovery of Wols’s work, Samson notes, came from Bonhams commitment to engage with communities where they have offices.  “Bonhams office in Amsterdam holds regular valuation days for anyone wishing to establish what their art works might be worth on the international art market. Bonhams is one of the three largest auction houses in the world with a presence in 27 countries on five continents and covers no fewer than 60 specialist art collecting categories.”

Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, 1952, an early and important example of Fontana’s Buchi (holes) series was the top lot in the art sale. Sourced from a private Spanish collection for the first time in forty years, this painting represents a rare example of one of the most influential artistic practices of the second half of Twentieth Century.

Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art sale attracted collectors from different corners of the globe, who contested for works dating from 1946 to 2013. In a crowded room, packed banks of telephone bidders and voracious activity from internet bidders, the auction room was overflowing with excitement. The result of all the sales room animation is reflected in the top prices recorded during the art sale.

In addition to Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, other top lots included a stunning stainless steel sculpture by Anish Kapoor which made £625,500. Sir Anish Kapoor is one of Britain’s most respected and best-known artists, whose works can be found in collections across the globe. Bonhams dedicated its cover to the concave steel sculpture, an instantly recognizable example from the artist’s most important series.

Frank Auerbach’s Portrait of J.Y.M.for £374,500 ($642,026). The stunning portrait of Juliet Yardley Mills captures not just a physical likeness of the sitter he knew so well, but also the unique energy of the subject and the vitality of a moment.

An important Alexander Calder, Araignée (Maquette) from 1957 sold £362,000 ($621,454). Calder’s works are presently on display at the Gagosian Gallery, London

The Contemporary Art Sale achieved two world record results:

Highest price paid at auction for a work on paper by Wols: L’explosion de la Cathédrale, 1946 selling for £143,099 (US$ 230,581) against an estimate of £12,000 – £18,000.

Highest price paid at auction for a sculpture by Mimmo Paladino: Assediato, 1992 selling for £111,349 ($ 179,150) against an estimate of £25,000 – £35,000.

Commenting on the great outing,  Bonhams new UK Board Director of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Ralph Taylor, said; “Today’s success is a statement of intent as to our strength as a department in selling the highest quality works at the most competitive levels. We designed the sale to be filled with museum quality; asset class works from across the range of the sector so as to achieve the best results for our consignors. We saw committed activity in the room and on the phones from some of the world’s most prestigious collectors, advisors and dealers; we move forward with confidence and the recognition that Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art Department is a force to be reckoned with.”

Alexander Calder (American,1898-1976) Araignée (Maquette)1957. Sold for £362,500 ($ 621,454). Image courtesy of Bonhams