Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Sotheby's 'happy' with art sale

Yves Klein's Archisponge
Klein's 1960 work features natural sponges applied to the canvas

An auction of contemporary art in New York has taken an under-estimate haul of $125m (82m) amid a halting market.

Yves Klein's Archisponge was top lot at the Sotheby's sale, fetching $21.36m (14m) - almost $5m below estimate.

But the sale - which had been expected to raise at least $200m (131.1m) - did set records for work by John Currin, Philip Guston, and Richard Serra.

Tobias Meyer, head of contemporary art at Sotheby's, said they were "very happy" with the outcome.

In total, 68% of the 63 lots on offer found buyers.


The target figure of at least $200m was set in September, before the world financial crisis took hold.

Sotheby's and rival Christie's have been encouraging sellers in recent weeks to adjust their expectations and lower reserves - the minimum price at which they will sell at auction.

Bidders responded to lower prices and "did not sit on their hands," Mr Meyer said.

Guston's Beggar's Joys, estimated at $15m (9.83m) sold for $10.16m (6.6m) - a record for the artist - and at least five bidders competed for Jeff Koons' Wishing Well, which still came in well under its lower estimate of $2.5m (1.64m).

But the $5.5m (3.6m) reached for Currin's Nice 'N Easy after several bidders vied for it beat even its high estimate of $4.5m ($2.9m).

Among the works failing to meet their minimum price were paintings by Anish Kapoor, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Lucian Freud and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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