The Spanish abstract sculptor Eduardo Chillida won some hard-earned market recognition last night at Christie’s contemporary-art sale in London when a towering cor-ten steel form from 2001 became the third-highest-priced lot of the evening. The winning bid clocked in at $6.3 million, nearly doubling the late artist’s record.
Chillida’s art performed powerfully elsewhere in the sale as well. A much smaller bronze-and-wood work sold for $540,000, well above its $460,00 high estimate, and a terracotta totem took in a solid $930,000. These were among the works featured in the GuggenheimBilbao’s 2006 group exhibition “Homage to Chillida,” the entire contents of which were auctioned off at Christie's, including a number of top-selling tributes to Chillida by other artists. In today’s afternoon sale, for instance, Markus Lüpertz’s 2003 bronze sculpture of a head, Chillida 1, sold to Miami collector Marty Margulies for $77,000—twice its estimate.
It appears to be a good time for sculpture on the market overall, a trend that has been in abundant evidence in London thus far. Cy Twombly, though better known for his doodle-esque paintings, had a bronze post on a platform sell for $2.5 million last night, while an Yves Klein sponge sculpture sold to the Nahmad family for $4.2 million. A small aluminum figure by Thomas Schütte also tripled its high estimate, bringing in $744,000 in the day sale.
Of course, painting still reigned supreme in the $108 million overall evening sale. The event's top lot, a massive double portrait by market star Jean-Michel Basquiat, went for $29 million, followed by Peter Doig’s 1994 painting of a Canadian lake, Jetty, which, at $11.3 million, came just shy of the artist’s previous auction record. (Doig, who once held the honor of being the priciest living artist at auction, also soared with a Pointillist-esque snowstorm for nearly $3 million, or double its high estimate.)
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