Around the Auction World: October 2021
The fall auction season started to heat up this October. Several consignments drew headlines as auction houses lined up rare works by Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Collectors also showed support for Black American artists at Swann Auction Galleries and a diverse group of modern photographers at Phillips. And as Banksy’s infamous Love is in the Bin returned to Sotheby’s auction block, the art world remembered the artist’s unprecedented shredding stunt from 2018. From new NFTs to old Hebrew prayer books, Auction Daily surveys highlights from around the auction world in October of 2021.
Around the auction world this month, industry leaders offered dedicated series of Asian and Middle Eastern artwork and collectibles. Events during this year’s Fall Asia Week in late September and early October saw strong bidding and numerous new artist records. Later, Sotheby’s presented several events for its autumn Islamic, South Asian & Middle Eastern Week. The available works crossed national borders and historical eras. Key offerings included a selection of Company School paintings made by Indian painters for the British East India Company, as well as pairs of gemstone-studded spectacles.
The industry continued its embrace of digital art and NFTs in October. Most recently, Sotheby’s Metaverse became the first NFT platform backed by a traditional auction house. Sotheby’s offered the second edition of its Natively Digital series on the new platform after partnering with well-known digital art collectors and mainstream names such as Paris Hilton. The dedicated NFT sale brought in approximately USD 18.7 million.
Swann Auction Galleries offered another sale of Black American art in early October. The auction brought in a historic $5 million and 11 new artist auction records. Hale Woodruff’s Carnival, which sold for $665,000, was the top lot. Swann established additional records for Elizabeth Catlett, Belkis Ayón, and Howardena Pindell.
Elsewhere in the auction industry, Banksy’s infamous Love is in the Bin made its comeback during a Sotheby’s auction. The framed painting first gained notoriety in 2018 when Banksy intentionally shredded his work during a live sale. After remaining in private hands for three years, the piece sold for a staggering GBP 18.6 million (USD 25.6 million). Another notable result from Sotheby’s came when the Luzzatto High Holiday Mahzor sold for USD 8.3 million against a $6 million high estimate. The centuries-old prayer book reached new heights for Hebrew manuscripts in the auction market.
Auction Daily’s Steiff specialist examined the key lots in German auctioneer Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion’s upcoming Steiff sale. The available rarities include a fully-jointed Bonzo, a “Pupp-Bully” dog with a salmon tie, and a like-new Treff the Bloodhound.
This month, American artist Dread Scott made his NFT debut at Christie’s. His work, titled White Male for Sale, placed a young white man atop an auction block on the busy streets of Brooklyn. With this NFT, Scott continued to examine the legacy of African slavery in the United States. Auction Daily also explored the work of English painter Jessica Dismorr, which came to auction with Eldred’s in late October. A pioneering modernist, Dismorr embraced abstraction as an anti-fascist gesture in the 1930s.
As the fall auction season advanced, the leading auction houses announced plans to sell several masterworks. Many are expected to break industry records in the coming months. A self-portrait by Frida Kahlo may set new highs for Kahlo, women artists, and Latin American artists at auction. Before Kahlo’s painting comes under the hammer, Auction Daily examined the top five most expensive works by Latin American artists at auction.
Quote of the Month
“The goal is to face facts but to find a basis for hope. To try for alchemy.”