On the Block

On the Block: What to Watch the Week of May 30

The auction cycle takes a WFH week with a series of online sales

This week is filled with a number of online sales. Continuing at Christie’s through Wednesday, June 8th is part one of the 20th/21st Century: Milan Online Sale. Every Italophile’s dream, the opening lot is an Arrazi work by Alighiero Boetti. This iteration from 1989 features a romantic phrase and a color palette of muted greens, oranges, and purples. It is being offered with an estimate of $32,051. A white monochromatic version of the work sold most recently in 2017 for $150,515 and before that in 2015 for $226,198. From another master of arte povera, Jannis Kounellis has an untitled work from 2002 coming onto the block with an estimate of $128,205. A very similar work with sheet metal and jute sacks last sold for $302,001, but this is not the series for which he has historically achieved his strongest prices at auction. The priciest lot in the sale is a red version of Concetto spaziale, [Attesa] by Lucio Fontana. Created in 1964, this artwork is being offered with a $854,700 estimate. A 1965 version of the work in green sold at Sotheby’s in Milan last month for $791,170 over a $435,912 estimate, perhaps informing the estimate for Christie’s upcoming lot.

Moving to France (but staying online), Sotheby’s Art Contemporain Day Auction which opens Tuesday, June 1 at 8 am EDT. Let’s take a look at the top of the price spectrum. The lot with the highest estimate in the sale is Robbie Barrat’s AI Generated Nude Portrait #7. #7 is an NFT from the pre-Beeple blowout era. It is being offered with a $429,321 estimate. A work from the series sold in March at Sotheby’s in London for $857,419, slightly below estimate. The work with the next highest estimate is a charming Keith Haring canvas from 1988. It last sold almost thirty years ago for $31,515, but this week, it comes to the block with an estimate of $279,059. Sotheby’s is also offering a table-top-scale Love sculpture by Robert Indiana. It has a $214,660 estimate. A work of a similar edition size and with similar dimensions (but inverted colors) sold for $302,400 at Christie’s just a few weeks ago, reinforcing the estimate as within range.

Rounding out our European tour, Sotheby’s Living Contemporary sale out of Cologne opens Friday, June 3 at 6 am EDT. The sale continues into the next week, during which there will also be a handful of additional online sales as well as live sales in Paris and New York. Stay tuned.

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