Christie’s Unprecedented Four-City Live Auction Raked in US$421m, Led by a US$46.2m Lichtenstein’s Nude

Last night, Christie’s held its first-ever global live auction that took place in consecutive sessions in four major salerooms: Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York. The 4-hour long ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century of Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art raked in a solid sale total of US$420.9m.

The sale sold 74 of all 79 artworks offered (three were withdrawn before the sale), achieving a 94% sell-through rate. It brought in a hammer price of US$362m, higher than the sum of pre-sale estimates of US$337m. Nearly half of the offering carried a third-party guarantee to make sure they will surely sell, which also contributed to the sale’s strong sell-through rate.

According to the auction house, Asian buyers remain to be very active as 26% of the lots sold were acquired by bidders from the Asia-Pacific region, including the buyer of the Lichtenstein’s Nude that sold for a whopping US$46.2m.

The four auctioneers in the ONE sale, Elaine Kwok (Hong Kong, top left), Jussi Pylkkänen (London, top right), Cécile Verdier (Paris, bottom left) and Adrien Meyer (New York, bottom right), led each respective part of the sale

There was some confusion when Cécile Verdier was unsure if Jussi Pylkannen was submitting an actual bid or making a suggestion to a client

The four-city auction marathon scheduled to be kicked off in Hong Kong at 8:30pm (local time) but was delayed by almost an hour due to the ‘unprecedented bidding’ at the preceding Modern and Contemporary auction there.

For more details about Christie’s Modern and Contemporary auction in Hong Kong, please read Sanyu still life sold for HK$191m at Christie’s HK$607m evening sale.

Hong Kong was the only saleroom with a venue for room bidding while the other three regions took telephone bids, absentee bids, and online bids. The sale was presided over by four auctioneers: Elaine Kwok in Hong Kong, Jussi Pylkkänen in London, Cécile Verdier in Paris and Adrien Meyer in New York. The four of them interacted with each other while leading their respective parts. Nevertheless, this never-before-seen arrangement caused some confusion during the live sale when different auctioneers were relaying bids in their cities simultaneously.

For example, at one point during the bidding for a Pierre Soulages painting in Paris, Jussi Pylkannen from London said, ‘I’m selling it at…’, but was soon interrupted by Paris-based auctioneer Cécile Verdier, who said, ‘No! I am not selling it!’

Maria Los (left), Deputy Chairman & Head of Client Advisory Americas, and Francis Belin (right), President of Christie's Asia Pacific, were bidding from New York and Hong Kong respectively

Over 80,000 people tuned in to watch the ONE sale, with 60,000 of those across social media from Asia. The highest price of the sale was also contributed by an Asian buyer.

Roy Lichtenstein’s 1994 Nude with Joyous Painting went under the hammer in the New York saleroom. The auctioneer Adrien Meyer opened the bidding at US$20m and Barrett White and Maria Los from the New York team further pushed the price all the way up to US$30m. As the duel continued, Francis Belin, President of Christie's Asia Pacific, jumped in with an entirely new bid at US$37m from Hong Kong. Belin gained victory for his telephone bidder with a hammer price of US$40.5m, or US$46.2m after premium, higher than the estimate of US$30m.

Adrien Meyer, the auctioneer in the New York saleroom, sold Lichtenstein’s Nude with Joyous Painting for a hammer price of US$40.5m

Lot 58|Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) Nude with Joyous Painting|Oil and Magna on canvas

Created in: 1994
Size: 177.8 x 134.6 cm

  • Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
  • Private collection, New York
  • James Goodman Gallery, New York
  • Private collection, Detroit
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate upon request (Expected to fetch in the region of US$30m)
Hammer price: US$40,500,000
Price realised: US$46,246,500

Painted in 1994, Nude with Joyous Painting is an iconic, tour-de-force of the last series of great nudes that Roy Lichtenstein began in 1993. The Nudes mark his majestic return to the comic-book heroines that propelled him to fame in the early 1960s. They marry Lichtenstein’s Pop Art sensibility with the most storied subject in the history of Western art—the female nude.

Nude with Joyous Painting made its auction debut at this sale after having been kept in an American private collection. The US$46.2m Nude with Joyous Painting set a new auction record for Lichtenstein’s nude paintings, obliterating the previous record held by Seductive Girl (1996), which was sold for US$31.5m in New York in 2013.

Most blockbuster lots were sold in the New York saleroom, including the top five tops of the sale. Here is a summary.

Lot 52A|Barnett Newman (1905-1970) Onement V|Oil on canvas

Created in: 1952
Size: 151.4 x 95.9 cm

  • Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Paine, Boston, acquired directly from the artist, 1962
  • Harold and Hester Diamond, New York
  • Annalee Newman, New York
  • David Pincus, Wynnewood, 1988
  • His sale; Christie's, New York, 8 May 2012, lot 24
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Estimate: US$30,000,000 - 40,000,000
Hammer price: US$27,000,000
Price realised: US$30,920,000

Barnett Newman is a major figure in abstract expressionism. His works rarely appear at auction, with only eleven of Newman paintings were up for auction over the past 30 years. Created in 1952, Onement V belongs to a group of six Newman’s Onement paintings which helped to define the course of twentieth-century painting. Beginning in 1948, Newman debuted his ‘zips’ (as he termed them), canvases with a vertical line of contrasting colour that interrupted the saturated hues of the painted ground, resulting in a palpable sense of painterly energy.

Of all six Onement paintings, only two are kept in the private hands including the present Onement V, while the other fours now reside in renowned museums. Onement I and Onement III are now in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Onement V was hammered down at US$27m after seven bids and sold for US$30.9m after premium, the second-highest price of the sale. It also saw a US$8.4m increase in its value compared against the US$22.5m it fetched at auction back in 2012.

Lot 55|Brice Marden Complements|Oil on canvas, in two parts

Created in: 2004 – 2007
Size: 182.9 x 243.8 cm (overall); 182.9 x 121.9 cm (each canvas)

  • Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
  • Private collection

Estimate: US$28,000,000 - 35,000,000
Hammer price: US$27,000,000
Price realised: US$30,920,000

Brice Marden’s Complements also sold for US$30.9m after premium, setting a new auction record for the American abstract painter.

Between 2004 and 2007, Marden continually worked and re-worked Complements by going over and over, erasing and redrawing, using a palette knife to scrape down the multiple layers until the painting was, as he described it, ‘resolved.’ The end result displays a mesmerizing contrast between a ethereal background and the graceful movements of the lines.

Brice Marden

Complements was knocked down at US$27m after four bids and sold to the client of Alex Rotter, Chairman of Post-War & Contemporary Art. Marden’s last auction record was set in 2019 when his Number Two fetched US$10.9m in New York.

Lot 52|Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F')|Oil on canvas

Created in: 1955
Size: 54 x 65cm

  • Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris (acquired from the artist, May 1956).
  • Victor and Sally Ganz, New York (acquired from the above, June 1956).
  • Daniel and Eleanore Saidenberg, New York (acquired from the above, by January 1957, and then by descent).
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2011.

Estimate upon request (Expected to fetch in the region of US$25m)
Hammer price: US$25,500,000
Price realised: US$29,217,500

The fourth top lot fell to Pablo Picasso’s 1955 Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F') that sold for US$29.2m.

Between 13 December 1954 and 14 February 1955, Picasso painted a series of fifteen canvases based on Eugène Delacroix’s masterwork Les femmes d’Alger, including this Les femmes d'Alger (version 'F').

Picasso painted the present Femmes d’Alger, Version F on 17 January 1955, around the halfway point in the cycle. Version F comes from the first phase of the series and represents the bridge to the later, larger-scale works in the ensemble and a counterpart to the magisterial Version O, which brings the second half of the series to a close.

New York collectors Victor and Sally Ganz acquired the whole series in June 1956 and sold to Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg in the following year. The present owner acquired it directly from the descendants of Eleanore and Daniel Saidenberg in 2011. Femmes d’Alger, Version F was hammered down at US$25.5m and sold for US$29.2m.

Lot 68|Ed Ruscha Annie|Oil and graphite on canvas

Created in: 1962
Size: 181 x 169.5cm

  • Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles
  • L. M. Asher Family Collection, Los Angeles, 1963
  • Betty Asher, Los Angeles
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1987

Estimate: US$20,000,000 - 30,000,000
Hammer price: US$20,000,000
Price realised: US$22,975,000

American pop artist Ed Ruscha’s important early painting Annie fetched US$22.9m and sold to the buyer bidding through Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art New York.

Measuring nearly six feet tall, this large-scale canvas is an early example of what would become his signature style, and demonstrates the unique and pioneering approach to art that would make him one of the most celebrated artists of his generation. Annie, inspired by the comic books featuring the popular children’s character, features a motif that Ruscha has returned to again and again throughout his career.

Ed Ruscha’s artworks have been highly sought after at auctions by collectors. Last autumn, his  Hurting the Word Radio #2 was sold for a record-breaking US$52.5m, reportedly bought by billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Lot 36|René Magritte (1898-1967) L'Arc de Triomphe|oil on canvas

Created in: February-March 1962
Size: 130.6 x 162 cm


  • Harry Torczyner, New York (acquired from the artist, 9 April 1962).
  • Galerie Isy Brachot, Paris (acquired from the above, circa 1986); sale, Christie’s, New York, 11 November 1992, lot 73.
  • Private collection (acquired at the above sale).
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 2000.

Estimate: £6,500,000 - 9,500,000
Hammer price: £15,500,000
Price realised: £17,798,750

The top lot at the London sale was René Magritte’s L'Arc de Triomphe. Estimated at £6.5m-9.5m, the painting was hammered down at £15.5m and sold for £17.8m.

The Belgian Surrealist artist produced a body of work that rendered such commonplace things strange, slotting them into unfamiliar or uncanny scenes. In this L'Arc de Triomphe, he has brilliantly subverted the viewer’s expectations, playing with perspective by juxtaposing a distant tree against a background of meticulously depicted leaves seen in close-up.

Magritte completed the present painting in late February or early March 1962, in time to show the newly dry canvas, titled Les goûts et les couleurs. Harry Torczyner, Magritte’s attorney in America, a close friend, collector, and a dedicated promoter of and writer on the artist’s work, acquired the picture. As the invoice dated 9 April reveals, the artist had retitled the canvas, thenceforth to be known as it is today—L’Arc de Triomphe

Lot 9|Zao Wou-Ki 21.10.63|Oil on canvas

Painted in: 1963
Size: 200 x 180 cm

  • Kootz Gallery, New York
  • Private Collection, Brooklyn
  • Pascal de Sarthe Fine Art, Scottsdale
  • Private collection, Taiwan
  • de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate upon request

Zao Wou-Ki’s 21.10.63, the leading lot at Hong Kong sale, surprisingly went unsold. It is one of the largest works in Zao Wou-Ki’s explosive ‘Hurricane’ series, which marked a creative peak in the artist’s career. It’s the first time the artwork is offered at auction. Measuring 200 x 180cm, 21.10.63 only elicited four bids with no higher bids after the price reached HK$80m. It was bought-in.

Numerous artist records were set at ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century, including some notable ones as below.

Some notable new artist records set at ONE

Lot 63|Wayne Thiebaud  Four Pinball Machines|Oil on canvas

Created in: 1962
Size: 172.7 x 182.8 cm

  • Allan Stone Gallery, New York
  • Anon. sale; Christie’s, New York, 13 May 1981, lot 54
  • Donald Bren, Newport Beach
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1982

Estimate: US$18,000,000 - 25,000,000
Hammer price: US$17,500,000
Price realised: US$19,135,000

Lot 10|George Condo Force Field|Acrylic, charcoal and pastel on linen

Created in: 2010
Size: 208.3 x 208.3 cm

  • Skarstedt Gallery, New York
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: HK$18,000,000 - 28,000,000
Hammer price: HK$45,000,000
Price realised: HK$53,150,000

Lot 7Takeo Yamaguchi (1902-1983) Yellow Quadrangle|Oil on board

Created in: 1959
Size: 183 x 183 cm

  • Private collection, Japan, circa 1970s
  • Gifted from the above to the present owner
  • This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Takeo Yamaguchi Artwork Registration Association.

Estimate: HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000
Hammer price: HK$12,500,000
Price realised: HK$15,125,000

Lot 30Manolo Millares (1926-1972) Cuadro 54|Oil and string on burlap

Created in: 1959
Size: 150 x 200 cm

  • Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris
  • Galería Vandrés, Madrid
  • Josep Suñol Soler Collection, Barcelona, 1975
  • By descent from the above to the present owner

Estimate: £900,000 - 1,200,000
Hammer price: £900,000
Price realised: £1,091,250

Lot 56Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) Untitled (S.401, Hanging Seven-Lobed, Continuous Interlocking Form, with Spheres within Two Lobes) | Hanging sculpture—enameled copper and brass wire

Created in: 1953 -1954
Size: 198.1 x 38.1 x 38.1 cm

  • Peridot Gallery, New York
  • Blanchette H. Rockefeller, New York, 1954
  • Her sale; Christie's, New York, 27 April 1994, lot 17
  • Dr. Gaylord Hall, San Francisco
  • By descent from the above to the present owner

Estimate: US$3,000,000 - 5,000,000
Hammer price: US$4,500,000
Price realised: US$5,382,500

Auction summary

Auction house: Christie’s
Sale: ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century
Auction date: 10 July 2020

Lots offered: 79
Sold: 74
Unsold: 5
Sold by lot: 94%
Sale total: US$420,941,042

Hong Kong
Lots offered: 10
Sold: 9
Unsold: 1
Sold by lot: 90%
Sale total: HK$214,155,000

Lots offered: 16
Sold: 15
Unsold: 1
Sold by lot: 94%
Sale total: €26,156,500

Lots offered: 19
Sold: 18
Unsold: 1
Sold by lot: 95%
Sale total: £50,521,000

New York
Lots offered: 33
Sold: 31
Sold by lot: 94%
Sale total: US$300,379,000