Yayoi Kusama Stars in Sotheby’s First Fine Art Sealed Auction

The dedicated, single-lot sale marks the auction house's introduction of fine art into its succesful Sealed Auctions.

Yayoi Kusama, Phantom Polka Dots of Fate Ordained by Heaven Were the Greatest Gift Ever for Me (2021). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Following Sotheby’s success with its innovative Sealed Auctions, the house’s discreet and convenient online platform for high-end and luxury pieces, the first-ever inclusion of fine art within the Sealed sale format debuts with a single-lot feature by Yayoi Kusama, with no reserve price.

The dedicated sale showcases the 2021 work Phantom Polka Dots of Fate, Ordained by Heaven Were the Greatest Gift Ever for Me, an arresting sculpture that features many of Kusama’s signature elements. Hailing from a series of Standing Infinity Rooms, the work is unique within the artist’s practice as it features architectural legs, L.E.D. lights, and reflective glass within the sculptural format—a combined method that is not seen elsewhere in her work.

detail inside of a yayoi kusama artwork with black polka dots covering glowing yellow tentacles

Yayoi Kusama, detail of Phantom Polka Dots of Fate Ordained by Heaven Were the Greatest Gift Ever for Me (2021). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

For followers of Kusama, however, the use of her signature polka dots, and yellow-and-black color scheme speak to her iconic oeuvre’s place within the canon of contemporary art. The faces of the pentagonal sculpture alternate between transparent and mirrored—the latter of which reflects the work’s surrounding milieu—within which writhe black dotted tentacles, with the dot patterns continually flowing over the endless appendages. The motif speaks to themes that Kusama has long engaged in her career, such as the concepts of the infinite, sublimity, and a personal fixation on pattern and repetition.

And while Phantom Polka Dots of Fate, Ordained by Heaven Were the Greatest Gift Ever for Me is viewable online for individuals around the world, the piece will also be on view through June 18, 2024, at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries in London—coinciding with the close of the sale.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Kusama’s work is a formidable first for Sotheby’s Sealed, as she has reached international fame and acclaim, solidifying her place as one of the most influential artists alive today. Specializing in the presentation of everything from exclusive luxury products to high-end cars, the addition of fine art to the format is a fitting expansion. Setting itself apart from other online sales and traditional auctions, Sotheby’s Sealed maintains a proprietary ranking system; though bidders are unable to see the winning bid (unless it is their own), participants are given insight into where their bids fall compared to other bidders. A further benefit of Sealed is there is no buyers’ premium, and whatever the final sale price ultimately is, it remains wholly confidential.

“Sotheby’s is delighted to expand our increasingly popular Sealed Auctions platform to incorporate works of fine art, alongside our existing portfolio of cars, wines, spirits, and luxury items,” said S.V.P, Head of Sealed Sales, Global Fine Art, Max Moore. “These highly curated auctions offer both buyers and sellers a new platform for exceptional and rare-to-market objects. The recent success of Sealed has further demonstrated how Sotheby’s is at the forefront of digital innovation, constantly evolving to meet our audience’s needs.”

Learn more about Sotheby’s London Sealed auction here.

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