Lehman Brothers art auction fetches $12M

September 27, 2010


Julie Mehretu

Art hailing from the collection of failed investment bank Lehman Brothers fetched more than $12 million US at an auction in New York on the weekend.

The Sotheby’s auction set new sales records for 17 artists, including Ethiopia’s Julie Mehretu, whose painting Untitled 1 sold for just over $1 million US — surpassing its high estimate of $800,000 US.

Several higher-than-expected sales included:

* Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled, which fetched $782,500 US.
* Liu Ye’s The Long Way Home, purchased for $962,500 US.
* A trio of works by Gerhard Richter, including Abstraktes Bild, which sold for $506,500 US.

“While the Lehman name certainly attracted a great deal of attention, the people who bid today participated because they knew it was good art,” Sotheby’s worldwide head of contemporary art Tobias Meyer said in a statement.

Much of the artwork sold had been purchased by curators who favoured investing in up-and-coming artists with potential. Many pieces had hung in the bank’s Manhattan headquarters.

Overall, 83 per cent of the 142 lots sold for a total of $12.28 million US. Bidders and buyers came from around the world, including institutions like the Museum Art Center Buenos Aires.

One of the notable pieces that failed to sell was British artist Damien Hirst’s We’ve Got Style (The Vessel Collection — Blue/Green), one of the artist’s series of cabinets holding ceramic objects. It held a pre-sale estimate of between $800,000 and $1.2 million US.

The proceeds of the auction will go toward repaying the more than $600 billion US owed to the creditors of Lehman Brothers, which declared bankruptcy in 2008 and helped set off a global meltdown of the financial system.

Further artwork from the bank’s collection will be sold by Christie’s in London on Wednesday and by Philadelphia-based auction house Freeman’s in its modern and contemporary art auction on Nov. 7.

source CBC