Sotheby’s Auction of the Future Achieves $363 Million








Sotheby’s stages an unprecedented series of three auctions, conducted remotely by Chairman and auctioneer Oliver Barker in London, taking bids from Sotheby’s specialists on phone banks in New York, Hong Kong & London, as well as online bidders. The evening sales were live-streamed to the world via seamless, real time video.


Francis Bacon’s Masterpiece Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus, Sold for $84.6 Million


An Online Bidder Participating from China Competes with a Determined Client Bidding by Phone with Grégoire Billault of Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Department in a Dramatic 10-Minute Battle for the Work


25 Works by 16 Female Artists Are All Sold, Totaling $86 Million and Achieving 5 Auction Records


Joan Mitchell’s Garden Party Sells to an Online Bidder for $7.9 Million,

Only to Be Surpassed by Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Head) That Sold for $15.2 Million


‘White Glove Auction’ of Works from The Ginny Williams Collection Are 100% Sold | Total $65.5 Million


Works from the Collection of Harry W. And Mary Margaret Anderson Are 100% Sold | Total $66.3 Million


Works from a Private Collection of Latin American Surrealist and Modern Art Are 91% Sold | Total $26.6 Million


Mario Carreño | Vija Celmins | Leonor Fini | Helen Frankenthaler | Wifredo Lam | Alice Rahon | Remedios Varo | Matthew Wong | Jean-Michel Basquiat (Work on Paper)

29 June 2020 – Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, and tonight’s auctioneer said, “Being on the rostrum tonight was like being at the epicentre of a cinematic production. We would never have envisioned, even a few months ago, that it would be possible to hold a series of flagship New York sales as an unprecedented live-streamed event, with banks of telephone-bidding colleagues beamed in from around the world. But, just as throughout its 276-year history, Sotheby’s was ready to pivot at a moment’s notice – and tonight we redefined the boundaries of what is possible.”

Grégoire Billault, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, commented: “There is no artist more perfect to star in a new, ground-breaking auction format than Francis Bacon. His masterful triptych has long been celebrated in museum exhibitions, and tonight it left its mark on the market, setting a new benchmark for any bid ever cast online – $73.1 million – before hammering down as the third highest price ever paid for the artist at auction. Witnessing heated competition from New York, London and Hong Kong in real time tonight, it’s clear that the market is very much alive and that the door has been opened to the future of auctions.”

David Galperin, Head of Sotheby’s Evening Auctions of Contemporary Art in New York, said: “The depth of bidding was seriously impressive tonight, with heated competition for a wide range of works: from six bidders battling for the exquisite early 1962 Judd wall relief, to the 20+ collectors who competed for the exceptional Matthew Wong painting that opened our various-owner auction, the night was full of moments we will all remember. The enthusiasm for exceptional works of art reiterated the great demand for quality that stands strong in the market. Our sales were anchored by works emerging from two exceptional private collections. The Ginny Williams Collection began a great evening for female artists overall, and it was particularly poetic to see the same painting for which Ginny set an auction record for Helen Frankenthaler’s work in 2011 smash another record price for the artist tonight. The success of the grouping assembled by Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson—with landmark results for significant works by Clyfford Still, Sam Francis, and Richard Diebenkorn – was a testament to their lasting legacy as among the most transformative collectors of Post-war American art, and market yet another season of great results for postwar American abstraction at Sotheby’s.”

Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s Head of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York, remarked: “We are thrilled with the results from tonight’s sale, which was marked by tremendous lot-by-lot successes, led by Pablo Picasso’s stunning Head of a Sleeping Woman, a new auction record for Wifredo Lam, and more strong results from The Vanguard Spirit, one of the most distinguished collections of Surrealist & Modern art that has come to market in recent memory. The group of Surrealist women artists from The Vanguard Spirit surged to achieve several new artist records for Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, and Alice Rahon, with all of them and others far surpassing their high estimates. These results showcase how Surrealism continues to grow as a category to include more diverse artists from around the world and achieve new benchmarks that compete with their peers. As the market continues to embrace new artists, alongside strong results from established mainstays, there is no doubt the market remains resilient and growing, as tonight’s sale clearly showed.”

Anna Di Stasi, Sotheby’s Director of Latin American Art, commented: “Tonight’s groundbreaking result for Wifredo Lam’s masterpiece Omi Obini, also from The Vanguard Spirit, not only resoundingly set a new auction record for the artist, but it also asserts Lam’s place as one of the premier Surrealist artists of his time. The undisputed masterpiece ranks among his finest works, comparably perhaps only to his well-known painting The Jungle, in the permanent collection of MoMA in New York. In the same vein, the Chilean artist Mario Carreño’s Cortadores de caña also established a new auction record, and is one of the most iconic images of la vanguardia Cubana. Since Sotheby’s began featuring Latin American artists in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales rather than separate Latin American Art sales, we have seen them continue to achieve record prices each season, and The Vanguard Spirit emphatically asserted that trend.”


93.2% Sold by Lot 

Evening Estimate: $262.1/368.4 Million

  • Tonight’s three auctions offered a strong selection of works by women artists, with all 25 works offered by 16 artists selling for a total of $86.1 million, and setting 5 new world auction records
  • Each sale offered works emerging from notable private collections, including:
    • 18 works from The Ginny Williams Collection were 100% sold, totaling $65.5 million
    • 10 works from the Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson were 100% sold, totaling $66.3 million
    • 11 works from a private collection of Latin American Surrealist and Modern art titled The Vanguard Spirit were 91% sold (10 sold), totaling $26.6 million
    • Surrealist works of art drove the results of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, with 14 works by 11 artists totaling $46 million, and setting 4 new world auction records
Share this