an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Contemporary Sales: Aside from Sender’s “Ahead of the Curve,” Sotheby’s Remains Behind the Curve

Oliver Barker, auctioneer at tonight's contemporary art sale at Sotheby's

Oliver Barker, efficient auctioneer at tonight’s contemporary art sale at Sotheby’s

With Sotheby’s continuing to lag far behind arch-rival Christie’s in the high-profile, high-stakes contemporary art field, I couldn’t help but wonder if all the recent turmoil that has embroiled it—including the unceremonious departure of contemporary art head Tobias Meyer and culminating in the costly surrender to activist investor Dan Loeb‘s unwanted advances—may have further weakened it.

With Loeb’s shareholder value-oriented agenda, we can expect some changes in the not-so-distant future. But what they will be and whether they will strengthen or compromise Sotheby’s performance remains to be seen.

For now, here’s my Storify recap of tonight’s $364.38-million contemporary sale at Sotheby’s, which achieved artists’ auction records for Rosemarie Trockel, Dan Flavin, Adam McEwen, Matthew Barney, Sarah Lucas, Keith Haring, James Rosenquist, Wade Guyton and Julian Schnabel. I end with some fact-and-figure comparisons to Christie’s more robust performance. I inadvertently omitted my retweet of Sotheby’s announcement that Jeff Koons‘ $28.17-million “Popeye” was purchased by Steve Wynn, to be exhibited in his Wynn Las Vegas hotel.

This is a long report, so you’ll have to click the “Read next page” link at the bottom to get to my concluding commentary. (For full results of Sotheby’s sale, go here.)

an ArtsJournal blog