The Most Expensive Ejaculation ever Auctioned
Murakami's buck-naked, 8-foot-tall ``My Lonesome Cowboy,'' inspired by a Japanese video game hero with a swirling semen lasso, fetched more than five times its $3 million low estimate. At $15.2 million, it may be the most expensive ejaculation ever auctioned. (A Sotheby's spokeswoman said that's one category they don't track.)But it's in the seemingly illogical patterns emerging that true farce lies:
The evening's biggest casualty was Mark Rothko, whose 1956 ``Orange, Red, Yellow'' drew not a single bid. Estimated to sell for more than $35 million, it was especially painful for Sotheby's, which said it ``owns the lot in whole or in part or has an economic interest in the lot equivalent to an ownership interest.''
On Tuesday, the top lot at Christie's was another yellow- and-red Rothko, which sold for $50.4 million. Rothko's 1950s ``White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)'' held the previous record for priciest contemporary work sold at auction, fetching $72.8 million last year at Sotheby's in New York.
But, as in all great farce, there are reassuring moments of humanity and sanity, indications that there remains some semblance of order to how things work:
Sotheby's sale got a lift from 33 lots from the Lauff Collection, totaling $96 million, more than double the $47 million estimate. ``Provenance and quality,'' art adviser Thea Westreich said, explaining their success.
With a juice and bottling fortune, German collectors Helga and the late Walther Lauffs bought major minimalist, Pop and conceptual artworks in the 1960s and 1970s. They purchased under the direction of Paul Wembers, the influential director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld, Germany. The collection was formerly on loan to the museum.
A few folks expressed disgust in yesterday's thread at the amount of money being spent at the contemporary auctions this week. Bambino, who attended Christie's the night before, noted that even though he understood the prices work was selling for at auctions, it was another matter all the same to see the bids advance in million-dollar increments (who are these people?). I guess I'm just more used to it, though, because I wasn't as taken aback.
The truth of the matter is, though, that nothing we sell is anywhere close to those prices and so my interest in the market remaining as strong as it can as long as it can, of course, is to remain in business long enough to get my artist's work into the right hands so that it will (hopefully) eventually end up prized pieces in museums' collections. The truth of the matter, as far as galleries are concerned, in fact, is that crazy auction prices aren't our goal. (They can wreck havoc on the carefully considered pricing structure and potentially hurt an artist's career.)
I want the auctions to do well, not because I particularly love them (or even respect their goals in all this), but because they're the most public measure of the mood of the market. If they're seen as "alive and well," then collectors are less hesitant to keep buying from the galleries, and we all get to keep doing what we love.
That doesn't mean I won't make fun of the auctions, though. They remain, in many ways, the best farce in town.
Labels: art auctions