Around the Auction World: September 2021
This September, collectors and art enthusiasts participated in a wide range of events. Many marked their calendars for the Swiss edition of Art Basel and New York’s Armory Show. Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped also made its debut this month. Meanwhile, bidders from around the world browsed fall catalogs of luxury watches, Steiff collectibles, and fine art. Auction Daily surveys the top headlines from around the auction world in September of 2021.
The summer months brought several surprises from around the auction world. Many video game collectors were shocked when retro games started achieving seven-figure prices at auction. This latest development follows a broader collecting trend toward vintage comic books, baseball cards, and collectibles. After a copy of Super Mario 64 sold for USD 1.56 million with Heritage Auctions, tensions between the video game collecting community and mainstream auction houses started to bubble over.
Several September sales reflected the industry’s interest in diversifying the art canon. Bonhams offered a collection of fine art exclusively created by modern British women artists, noting in the auction catalog that gender inequities still persist in the art world. The 63-lot auction featured works from nearly every 20th-century art movement. Dame Laura Knight, Ithell Colquhoun, Bridget Riley, and Maggi Hambling all had pieces in the catalog.
With the conclusion of 2021’s third quarter, Auction Daily examined the state of the market. While largest auction houses report a return to pre-pandemic sales figures, smaller companies, galleries, and art dealers struggle. Likewise, large art fairs such as Art Basel in Switzerland and New York’s Armory Show have continued despite rising concerns over the Delta variant. Smaller events canceled their plans due to safety and travel complications.
September also opened with a selection of luxury timepieces in Sotheby’s Fine Watches auction. The timed sale brought in a total of $1,656,522. An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak wristwatch was among the top lots, selling for $88,200 against a low estimate of $40,000. The colorful Rolex Daytona Beach series, Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Vacheron Constantin watches were among the key items sold.
This month, Steiff collectors had the opportunity to bid on toys, dolls, and pop culture in a Potter & Potter auction. Steiff specialist Rebekah Kaufman examined the main items that crossed the block. A pair of prototype mice, a Margarete Steiff Club “Haute Couture” Teddy bear, and a collection of Steiff holiday ornaments were among her picks.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s long-awaited L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped installation opened this month. To celebrate, both Sotheby’s and Bonhams offered auctions honoring the pair’s creative legacy. Sotheby’s presented 25 preparatory sketches for the project in a timed selling exhibition. Bonhams took the opportunity to look back on Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s past projects, including The Pont Neuf Wrapped.
Auction Daily featured the lives and histories of leading American artists Franz Kline and Andy Warhol. Both established lasting legacies in their respective movements and still command high auction prices today. Kline became enamored with abstraction after moving to New York in the 1930s. He soon switched to a monochrome palette and embraced Expressionism. Warhol moved to the city nearly a decade later and became the figurehead of American Pop Art.
We also highlighted the work of Mexican painter Diego Rivera. The master muralist captured the social and political landscape of North America in the 20th century. For years, Rivera held the record for the most expensive work by a Latin American artist at auction. Maqbool Fida Husain’s influence on the global art market is well-documented as well. The artist blended European Cubism with classical Indian styles. Best known for his paintings of horses, landscapes, and Hindu deities, Husain faced controversy throughout his career.
Quote of the Month
“There’s some kind of strong magic that we can’t explain… there are mysterious things that happen and I feel that being a creator you link up in some way to another realm of reality that is not part of the everyday.”