Auctions Contemporary art Fairs United Kingdom

Saatchi thinks big but sells (pretty) low

Christie’s risky decision to host an auction of works from the collector’s holdings without reserves or estimates did not quite pay off

The Chapman Brothers' Tragic Anatomies (detail), 1996, went for an unexpectedly low £151,875 (with premium)

Christie’s took a risk in hosting an auction (“Thinking Big”) on Thursday without reserves or estimates on 50 large-scale installations from Charles Saatchi’s collection. The decision did not quite pay off, and many of the works that sold seemed a relative steal.

Jake and Dinos Chapman’s notorious Tragic Anatomies (above, detail), 1996, which was part of the Royal Academy of Arts’ “Sensation: Young British Artists” show in 1997, went for an unexpectedly low £151,875 (with premium). A handful of works went for an unofficial reserve of £8,000 to the same absentee bidder.

Nonetheless, the sale raised a total of £2.75m to support the Saatchi Gallery, London. The sculptures are on view at 21-31 New Oxford Street until Sunday in a free exhibition.

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