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Blockbuster Art Week Sets Record With Over $ 2.6 Billion In Sales


Art manipulators hang Claude Monet’s “Coin du bassin aux nymphas” at Sotheby’s on November 5, 2021 in New York.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

Fall art auctions in New York City set all-time high as an increase in global wealth, growing fears of inflation and the continued craze for collectibles spurred demand and prices.

Sales of Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Philips totaled $ 2.65 billion in the two weeks, breaking the 2014 fall sales record of $ 2.59 billion, according to Pi-eX, a data company and artistic analyzes. Collectors have fought for everything from the classics Cézanne and Van Gogh to a video sculpture tied to an NFT.

A record 32 works sold for more than $ 20 million, according to Pi-eX, and 54 works sold for more than $ 10 million. The total for Christie’s was $ 1.14 billion, that for Sotheby’s was $ 1.34 billion, and that for Phillips was over $ 170 million.

Crypto wealth was on full display. Crypto “whale” Justin Sun paid $ 78.4 million for Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture “The Nose”. A group of crypto investors known as ConstitutionDAO lost to billionaire Ken Griffin for an original copy of the US Constitution that cost $ 43.2 million.

“Art market sentiment is at its highest right now,” said Evan Beard, specialist segments manager at Bank of America, “due to low interest rates, the wealth effect of the market stock market, inflationary monetary policy and new crypto wealth that needs to be parked somewhere. “

The sale of two major collections – the Cox Collection at Christie’s and the Macklowe Collection at Sotheby’s – has created a wealth of quality art trophies for wealthy bidders.

Sales of the Cox Collection, which belonged to the late Dallas oil mogul Edwin L. Cox, totaled $ 332 million. It included Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 masterpiece, “Wooden Huts among the Olive Trees,” which sold for nearly $ 71.4 million, double his estimate. Another van Gogh went for six times his estimate. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has purchased Gustave Caillebotte’s “Young Man at His Window” for $ 53 million.

The Macklowe Collection, a product of developer Harry Macklowe’s bitter divorce, grossed $ 676 million. It was run by Mark Rothko’s “No. 7”, which cost $ 82.5 million. Along with the Giacometti sculpture acquired by Sun, it included a Jackson Pollock which cost $ 61.2 million and a towering Cy Twombly piece which grossed $ 58.9 million.

Sotheby’s staff respond to off-site tenders in front of Andy Warhol’s “Sixteen Jackies” at an auction of The Macklowe Collection, at Sotheby’s on November 15, 2021 in New York City.

Yuki Iwamura | AFP | Getty Images

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, also made an appearance during the fall sales. An “NFT-powered” sculpture by digital artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, has sold for $ 29 million at Christie’s. The sculpture is a 7-foot-tall 3D digital light box made up of four LED screens that shows an astronaut walking through ever-changing landscapes. The buyer was Ryan Zurrer, a Swiss crypto venture capitalist, who on Twitter praised Beeple for “visionary innovation, incredible new energy, and hilarious positive vibes you’ve brought to both crypto and to art “.

It became the second-highest price ever paid for an NFT after “Everydays: The First 5,000 Days” by Beeple, which sold at Christie’s earlier this year for $ 69 million.

The crypto crowd has not been so fortunate in their efforts to buy a copy of the Constitution. A group of over 17,000 crypto investors and enthusiasts called ConstitutionDAO has raised over $ 40 million to purchase a first edition of the U.S. Constitution. They were outbid by billionaire hedge-funder Ken Griffin, who paid $ 43.2 million for this piece of history. It will be exhibited at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas.

On Twitter, Beeple praised the DAO Constitution and said, “I think this is the start of something big.”


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