Boetti hitch takes shine off Bonhams’ big night
The auction house could not quite pull off its first Frieze week contemporary sale
By Melanie Gerlis. From Frieze daily edition
Published online: 14 October 2011
london. In the end, Bonhams couldn’t quite pull off its first Frieze week contemporary sale. The event, featuring 20 lots—all fresh to market—would have been a success if only the headline work, Alighiero Boetti’s 30ft long Anno 1984, (est £1.2m-£1.8m) had sold. No bids came in for the Boetti at yesterday’s auction and Jonathan Horwich, the head of pictures at Bonhams, had to hammer it down unsold. “The main issue is its scale, which cuts out a lot of private collectors,” said dealer Pilar Ordovas, adding: “There’s no doubt it should be in an institution.” The work was recently in Greece’s Dakis Joannou collection, from which it was given to the seller.
Bonhams had offered a cash advance against the work (for less than half its estimated value, according to Anthony McNerney, the head of the contemporary art department). McNerney said that, should Bonhams not subsequently sell the work privately, this loan would be repaid.
The rest of the sale was solid, with a respectable 70% sold by lot—so healthier than the 66% at Phillips de Pury’s equivalent auction on Wednesday evening, but with a still small £2m sale total (est £3.3m-£4.6m). One highlight was Lueurs, a 1981 painting by Chinese artist Chu Teh-Chun, which attracted lively bidding from the telephones, saleroom and the internet before selling for £103,250 (est £30,000-£50,000).
“I think we have a fighting chance,” said McNerney of the firm’s contemporary sales, adding that it has a “stonking masterpiece” for its sale in February.
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