Lucian Freud Sells for £22.4m at Sotheby’s, Artist’s New Record in London

Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Art evening sale in London realised a total of £110.2m, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of £79.7m - 108.2m. Lucian Freud’s Portrait on a White Cover was sold for £22.5m (US$29.8m), a new auction record for the artist in London.

Freud’s Portrait on a White Cover, estimated at £17m-20m, depicts Sophie Lawrence, who worked for Tate publishing and was spotted by Freud whilst preparing for his Tate retrospective in 2002. This is her only known portrait and there is little written about her in the literature surrounding the artist’s work. Painted when the artist was at the age of 80, the painting represents the culmination of Freud’s lifelong engagement with the reclining nude.

Sophie Lawrence standing in front of Portrait on a White Cover

The bidding opened at £13m, and soon escalated into a bidding battle when the price went beyond £16m. A room bidder offered £17m, then followed by £18m, offered by the telephone bidder represented by Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby's Asia. The duel continued to push the price up to £19.6m, a bid that made by the room bidder. Patti’s client withdrew from the contest, but another telephone bidder joined in. The portrait was hammered down for £19.7m and sold for £22.4m (US$29.8m) to Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Europe, who bought the piece on behalf of his client.

Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby's Asia

The portrait was sold to Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Europe

The most expensive work by Lucian Freud was set by Benefits Supervisor Resting (1994) which was sold for US$56m at Christie’s New York in 2015.

Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Resting (1994)

The second top lot fell to Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled, painted in 1982. In that year, Basquiat almost exclusively worked on canvases that were frequently dominated by a depiction of the singular skull-like head. The head in Untitled is not an individuated head, it is a death’s head – a symbolic skull, a warning: the toxicological skull and cross-bones on a poisonous warning label as rendered in bright Day-Glo orange and streaming black spray paint.

Estimate at £7.5m-10m, this untitled work is one of the 23 lots sold by movie producer Michael Lynne, the former co-chairman of New Line Cinema Corp. Being offered at auction for the first time, the painting was hammered down for £12.8m and sold for £14.6m (US$19.4m).

The untitled work depicting an orange head led a group of 23 lots sold by movie producer Michael Lynne

The third highest-price was realised by David Hockney’s Double East Yorkshire. Painted in 1998, this important and expansive painting belongs among the very first of Hockney’s Yorkshire landscape pictures: a small group of only six works that were executed between 1997 and 1998. Painted on his return to California – around the same moment that Hockney was working on his panoramic views across the Grand Canyon – Double East Yorkshire is one of the most evocative of Hockney’s remarkable depictions of his home county.

Estimated at £10m-15m, the painting was hammered down at £9.8m, below its estimate. It was sold for £11.2m (US$14.9m, premium included) to the telephone bidder represented by Amy Cappellazzo, Chairman of the Fine Art division. This work is guranteed with an irrevocable bid before the sale and it is very likely that the final price sold is the amount covered by the irrevocable bid.

Top three lot

Lucian Freud. Portrait on a White Cover

Lot no.: 6
Created in: 2002-03
Size: 116.5 x 143 cm
Acquavella Galleries, New York
Private Collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011
Estimate: £17,000,000 - 20,000,000
Hammer price: £19,700,000
Price realised: £22,464,300

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Untitled

Lot no.: 13
Signed and dated: 1982
Size: 183 x 122 cm
Larry Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles
Private Collection, New York
Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998
Estimate: £7,500,000 - 10,000,000
Hammer price: £12,800,000
Price realised: £14,674,200

David Hockney. Double East Yorkshire

Lot no.: 26
Created in: 1998
Size: 152.4 x 193 cm (each), 152.4 x 386 (overall)
The Artist
LA Louver Gallery, Los Angeles
Ron Burkle, Los Angeles
Private Collection (acquired from the above)
Sotheby’s, London, 26 June 2013, Lot 10 (consigned by the above)
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: £10,000,000 - 15,000,000
Hammer price: £9,800,000
Price realised: £11,287,200

Auction summary:
Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Sale date: 26 June 2018
Lots offered: 44
Sold: 43
Unsold: 1
Sold by lot: 98%
Sale total: £110,239,550