Around the Auction World: October 2022
What were the top stories in the auction industry this month?
This month, we explored some of the spookiest items and events available from around the auction world. Sotheby’s celebrated the season by offering an unsettling figure painting by Francis Bacon, the subject of a dedicated October 24 capsule event. Figure Crouching from 1949 sold for a modest EUR 4.02 million (USD 4 million). This fresh-to-the-market painting featured some of the most recognizable motifs of Bacon’s oeuvre: a confined space, a hunching not-quite-human figure in isolation, and a swath of darkness. Bidders favored other lots in the sale that spoke to Bacon’s artistic process, delivering strong prices for a used palette (EUR 63,000 / USD 62,700) and a photograph of Triptych – Studies from the Human Body (EUR 17,640 / USD 17,550).
Another notable event this October came from Heritage Auctions. The company presented its first dedicated VHS horror auction online. Bidding closes on October 31, 2022. The sale of vintage VHS tapes features 100 collectible Halloween-themed titles, including graded copies of Jaws, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Ghostbusters, and Halloween. Prices for some of the tapes exceed $10,000 each.
Potter & Potter Auctions offered its third sale from the Klosterman magic collection this October. This carefully-curated event focused on all things ghosts, séances, and the afterlife. Auction Daily spoke with Gabe Fajuri, President of Potter & Potter Auctions, before the sale, to learn more about the top lots. He noted that trickery can be used to amaze, scare, or deceive an audience, since “magicians have long adapted and adopted the techniques of fraudulent spirit mediums for their performances, and that street runs two ways, with mediums adapting the techniques of stage magicians for less than honest purposes.”
The auction produced strong results and furious bidding for some of the leading magic-related lots. Soaring to the top was an automatic flowering rosebush prop specially made for and used by Harry Houdini. After 51 bids, it sold for a jaw-dropping $324,000 against a presale estimate of $25,000 to $50,000.
Korean Art Market News
Auction Daily’s coverage of the Korean art market continued this October in the aftermath of several major art fairs, including the Breeze Art Fair and the Buddha Art Fair. These shows ran in the early days of October and featured work by emerging Korean artists and those exploring Buddhist philosophy through works of art.
Both art fairs were somewhat overshadowed by Frieze Seoul and Kiaf Seoul. The events opened together at COEX in Seoul; sales at Frieze alone exceeded USD 430 million. Responses to these events were mostly positive, though some market observers were left wondering if the Korean art market will continue to accelerate at breakneck speeds after the fairs concluded. As prices skyrocket amid a declining global economy, fears of a bubble have also increased. These fears have not deterred the auction market, however. Auction Daily reports that, for the third consecutive year, art by Yayoi Kusama is expected to top the Korean auction market results. In Korea, her pieces regularly sell for millions of dollars.
Looking for more context on the Korean art market? Our columnist recently explored how Korea’s history has helped build an exciting new art hub in Seoul.