Francis Bacon paintings sold for $84 million in a surreal "hybrid" virtual auction

Francis Bacon paintings sold for $84 million in a surreal “hybrid” virtual auction

Writer CNN’s Oscar Holland

One French Bacon The triptych was sold for more than $84 million in a virtual auction conducted by Sotheby’s, which is an encouraging and extremely unusual night for the art market hit by the coronavirus.

With the auctioneer broadcasting live from London and telephone bids in New York and Hong Kong, the painter’s 1981 work “Triptych Inspired by Aeschylus” (Aeschylus Oresteia) exceeded the pre-sale price Estimated 60 million to 80 million US dollars.

The marathon auction on Monday evening marked Sotheby’s first attempt at its “hybrid” auction format, with Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s European chairman, bidding from agents around the world through the screen wall. In a press statement, Buck described the experience as “like being at the center of filmmaking.”

Sotheby’s first “hybrid” auction brings more than $363 million in revenue to auction houses Credit: Sotheby’s

Bidders can also quote online, and the 10-minute battle of Bacon’s painting ended with a two-horse race between Chinese Internet users and unidentified phone bidders. According to Sotheby’s, the latter’s final transaction price was $84.6 million, the third highest price for the artist’s work at the auction.

There were other positive signs at the party, including three separate sales. Roy Lichtenstein’s “White Stroke I” was sold for $25.4 million, and Jean Michel Basquiat“Untitled (Head)” broke the world auction record of the artist’s work on paper for $15.2 million.

That night, it sold 363.6 million US dollars for Sotheby’s, and 93% of the artworks were finally sold. Gregoire Billault, head of the New York auction house’s contemporary art department, said that in the next few months, this bodes well.

Gallery Assistant with Francis Bacon

The gallery assistant and Francis Bacon’s “Clover Inspiration” constitute Sotheby’s Credit: Getty Images

He said: “Tonight is a very clear proof that even in very difficult times, if you put the right (artwork) at the right price, the market will exist.” He said on the phone shortly after the sale , Admit that auctioning in the current climate has always been “a risk.”

He added: “This will definitely affect our future work.” “Whether we will repeat (the exact format) I don’t know, but we know this is possible and effective.”

Difficulties persist

However, these are still disturbing moments for an industry that has been severely hindered by the inability to conduct on-site sales. Because blockades around the world have forced auction houses to cancel and postpone activities, Sotheby’s has already taken vacations and laid off employees as revenue has fallen.

Despite efforts to increase digital products in recent months, the high-end of the art market still largely depends on live sales and live viewing. The revenue from online auctions alone represents the relative pocket money of large houses-only $80 million of the total revenue of $4.8 billion set by Sotheby’s in 2019 came from the Internet.

How does art auction really work?

Nevertheless, the auction house is still trying to make up for the lack of physical events. Its “contemporary” sales set New online records In April this year, the company generated more than $6.4 million in revenue through works such as Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. George Condo’s Antipodal Reunion’s $1.3 million may only represent a small portion of the amount seen on Monday night, but it’s Sotheby’s online bid to raise art The highest amount.
Sotheby's first

Sotheby’s first “hybrid” auction Credit: Sotheby’s

However, although there is no doubt that the success of this “hybrid” auction will obviously be gratifying, in the context of the global economic downturn, people’s interest in blue-chip art is still in doubt. In addition, Bacon oil paintings were commissioned long before the Western epidemic occurred, which meant that potential buyers were able to view works of art in Hong Kong and London before the auction.

In the current climate, it remains to be seen whether potential sellers are still willing to sell millions of dollars worth of artwork, or whether buyers will purchase large items in large quantities that they cannot personally inspect.

Despite this, Bilo was still ecstatic, saying that Sotheby’s was still able to “create amazing works during the period of Koved”.

He said: “After all these difficult times, we have sent a signal to the art market that the exhibition has been cancelled and the museum closed. This is a vote of confidence for both buyers and sellers.”

Above: “Triple painting inspired by Aeschylus Oresteia”, 1981, Francis Bacon

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