articles: Most expensive paintings sold at auction in 2011
The monopoly of auction market from a purely commercial standpoint belongs to Christie's and Sotheby'sLorenzo Paci (translated by Savina Carluccio)
Article by Emiliano Stefenetti
This article presents the “most expensive” paintings of 2011 as sold in international auction houses.
Eight out of ten works are from XX century, and five out of ten establish new world records.
The ranking, which considers only the auction market where - as it is now happening since many years - the monopoly of auction houses belongs to Sotheby's and Christie's.
Below is a list of works with photo, author, title, award, auction house and "bio" details.
1-Clyfford Still "1949-A-NO.1" (1949) was sold at Sotheby's for € 45,244,113. It doubled the base bid, marking the new world record for the artist and the work becomes highest paid in 2011.
The painting was sold by the city of Denver in order to raise money for the Clyfford Still Museum, together with three other paintings of the same artist, reaching a total amount of 114.1 million dollars.
To raise even more the auction final price was the extreme rarity of Still's works in international auctions, 11 so far. The artist sold poorly during his life and rarely took part in exhibitions, leaving all his works as a legacy to the city so that a museum could be founded to house his creations exclusively. Hence the decision of the city of Denver to sell 4 to allow the museum to take off.
2 - ROY LICHTENSTEIN "I Can See The WHOLE ROOM ... AND THERE’S NOBODY IS IN IT" (1961) sold by Christie's for € 31,334,773 New world record for the artist.
The work, won by an anonymous collector, was part of the collection of Emily and Burton Tremaine. It is considered one of the most important works of Lichtenstein because it was created in the same year as the first comic book theme painting, and therefore of high historical value for American Pop –Art
3 - FRANCESCO GUARDI “Venezia, veduta dal Ponte di Rialto dalle Fondamenta del Carbon” (Venice, view from Rialto Bridge from the Foundation of Carbon, 1760) was sold for € 29,834,176 at Sotheby's, a new world record for the artist and a Venitian work and third most expensive "old masters" work of all time.
Since its creation the painting was recognized as a work of excellent quality, helping the artist to launch his reputation in the international market as it was sold in 1768 to Charloner Archedeckner during his "Grand Tour of Italy" making it the first work by Guardi overseas. It is a work of high historical and artistic value, also due to the large, almost monumental, size of the canvas of 155x199.5cm, one of the four largest paintings ever produced by Guardi (one of which was lost to a fire in the last century).
Its value is enhanced by the absolute certainty of paternity - Francesco Guardi’s 100% authentic works in circulation are not many - by the little exposure to the public, having always remained in private collections other than sold once, and the international market’s "rediscovery" of these works especially for new collectors from China, Arab countries and the former Soviet Republics.
4-PABLO PICASSO "La Lecture" (1932) sold for € 29,744,289 at Sotheby's.
An interesting work, as well as for its artistic value, for the story it tells: the secret love between Picasso and his mistress Marie Therese Walter, blossomed when the then 45 year old artist was married and the young Marie was only seventeen. A love concealed because of the strong social complications that would trigger.
According to the same story told by Marie years later, Picasso would have noticed her out of the subway in front of stores La Fayette in Paris, and after he grabbed her by the arm he said, "I'm Picasso! You and I will do great things together! "
5-GUSTAV KLIMT "Litzlberg am Attersee" (1915) sold at Sotheby's for € 29,259,490.
The history of this painting, as other paintings by the same artist that ended up in auctions recent years, is linked to WWII. The painting was originally purchased by iron industrialist Victor Zuckeknald who then left it to Amalie Redlich in 1938. Redlich was deported in 1941 to a concentration camp in Poland and there she died. The canvas was then seized by the Gestapo and ended up at the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg.
In 2002, George Jorisch, Redlich’s sole heir, began a major dispute with the Austrian state, which ended with the return of the work to its rightful owner in 2009, from there the decision to auction.
6-EGON SCHIELE "Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstad II)" (1914) sold for € 27,635,595 at Sotheby's, a new world record for the artist.
This painting has a quite odd story, since it wasn;t sold by a private collector, but rather by the Leopold Museum in Vienna.
The museum has come to this "forced" decision in order to settle the debt with the heirs ofJewish art dealer and collector Lea Bondi Jaray. In fact, the museum owns the beautiful "Portrait of Wally" painted by Schiele in 1912 and finished, after having been subtracted by the Nazis, in Dr. Leopold’s collection. The restitution process began in 1998 and the New York court has come to a compromise: the museum can hold on to the painting only if it pays a compensation of $ 19,000,000 to the heirs.
Therefore the museum decided to sacrifice one of the eight Schiele’s landscapes of high artistic value included in its collection in order to keep the beautiful portrait in the Leopold Collection.
The painting is also of great historical value: it was painted by Schiele at the height of his career and then given to his friend and patron Heinrich Bolher.
Leopold himself says: "In the eyes of Schiele, the colored laundry still symbolises young people’s innocent vision of life before they are forced into claustrophobic homes when they get old. This idea is suggested by the interlocking character of the houses and is underlined by the physiognomic connotation of the houses on the right with their 'windows-eyes'. Just behind the houses lies a wasteland. The tops of the mountains that emerge from the clouds -perhaps the symbolic goal of human desires - appear unattainable. "
7-FRANCIS BACON "Tree Studies for Portrait of Lucian Freud" (1965) sold at Sotheby's for € 27,129,974.
In recent years, international collectors have shown a strong admiration for Francis Bacon and his works have become the most sought after and highest paid in the world.
In this case, however, even if the experts were expecting high results, it nearly tripled the base bid of 8-10 million dollars.
A small work, which contains Bacon’s full force of brushwork and color scheme, remained in the hands of the collector himself since its creation in 1965. But above all, an exceptional work because it shows the intense emotional relationship between two of the greatest British figures of world painting of the twentieth century.
8-ANDY WARHOL "Self portrait" (1963-64) sold at Christie's for € 26,775,201.
Self portrait is one of the most important themes of Warhol's production since the start of his career, as evidenced by this work. By becoming a Pop artist, Warhol explores in his work themes such as diversity, mortality of the individual and the universality of popular culture, using images of celebrities and objects of mass culture. However, having become a public figure of international fame himself, he gained the right to be the subject of his own works.
9 -GEORGE STUBBS "Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, Jockey and a Stable Lad" (1765) sold at Christie's for € 24,979,355, a new world record for the artist.
The painting, in typical riding style, portrays the then famous thoroughbred Gimcrack who starred in numerous competitions which thrilled XVIII century England.
10-Mark Rothko "UNTITLED No.17" (1965) sold at Christie's for € 23,459,861.
This painting has a curious story: it was virtually unknown to anyone until the decision of the owner to sell it at auction to invest in real estate. The anonymous collector has in fact claimed to have purchased the work directly from Rothko in 1965, and that he had always kept away from the spotlight.
To date, the number of Rothko’s catalogued paintings was 835, this becomes number 836.
The canvas, analyzed by David Anfam English critic and author of Mark Rothko: The Works of Canvas – A Catalogue Raisonne (1998), said it is undoubtedly an original because it contains all the features of the master's works for size, color and rich and vibrant brushwork.
Ranking taken from: arcadja.com | information sources: america24.com - localport.it - corrieredelveneto.corriere.it - tafter.it - poesia.blog.rainews24.it – bbc.co.uk - lussuosissimo.com - artribune.com - elogedelart.canalblog.com – Christies.com - arslife.com - artdaily.com - classlife.it - deluxeblog.it
Lorenzo Paci (translated by Savina Carluccio) - March 29, 2012
[This article originally appeared in Italian: I dieci quadri più costosi dell'anno]