Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Metallica star sells $13m artwork

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat's boxer surpassed its pre-sale estimate

A painting of a boxer by Jean-Michel Basquiat - owned by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich - has been sold at auction for $13.5m (9.12m).

The painting was a highlight of Christie's contemporary art auction in New York.

But a Francis Bacon painting failed to sell, fuelling fears over the state of the art market.

Bacon's Study for Self Portrait, billed as a highlight of the auction, had been estimated to fetch $40m (27m).

When the bidding stalled at $27.4m (18.5m) the auction was halted.

'No panic'

A total of 75 contemporary works went under the hammer at the sale on Wednesday evening, but almost a third failed to attract a buyer.

The auction took a total of $113.6m (76.77m), half the low pre-sale estimate of $227m (153.4m).

Francis Bacon's 1964 Study for Self Portrait
Francis Bacon painted Study for Self Portrait in 1964

"The market is continuing, but clearly at a different price level," Christie's president Marc Porter said.

"There's no panic in the market, but there is an adjustment.

"While it had declined, you've seen it find a stable level, with a lot of support."

Baird Ryan, managing director of the art-related financial services firm Art Capital Group, said there continued to be demand for fine art.

While he admitted there was "a correction going on" in the market, it was impressive that "in such a period of remarkable financial stress you can sell over $100m (67.56m) worth of art in an evening".

Other sale highlights included Kusama's No. 2, which soared to $5.7m (3.85m) - more than twice its low estimate.

Gerhard Richters's Abstraktes Bild (710) also beat its estimate. Records for Paul McCarthy and Robert Irwin were also broken.

But five straight lots including three Andy Warhols and a Richter with values as high as $15m (10.1m) went unsold.

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