Will These Adrian Ghenie Consignors Get Lucky Like François Pinault?

This week will test the artist's super-hot market.

Adrian Ghenie, Pie Fight Study (2013). Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.
Adrian Ghenie, Pie Fight Study (2013). Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

As meteoric auction rises go, few contemporary artists can match Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie for the speed and intensity with which his auction prices have risen in recent years.

Will the streak continue this month? He has five works at auction, the priciest of which are two paintings at Christie’s postwar and contemporary evening sale on November 15:  Flight into Egypt (2008), with an estimate of $800,000–1.2 million, and The Bridge (2015), estimated at $1.5—2.5 million. Later this month, Elvis (2009), will be featured at Phillips Hong Kong contemporary sale on November 27 (estimate: $155–193,000).

Adrian Ghenie, <i>Elvis</i> (2009). Courtesy Phillips/Phillips.com

Adrian Ghenie, Elvis (2009). Courtesy Phillips/Phillips.com

Ghenie’s painting Nickelodeon (2008) soared to a record £7.1 million ($9 million) at Christie’s London last month during Frieze Week sales, as noted by the Financial Times, smashing its pre-sale estimate of £1 million to £1.5 million, and underscoring growing international demand for his work.

That sale marked a huge win for the consignor, François Pinault, who acquired it from Haunch of Venison, presumably soon after it was painted in 2008, at a time when the artist—who is now approaching 40—first started gaining attention, along with a group of other Romanian artists from the city of Cluj, the historic Transylvanian capital in northwestern Romania. At the time, work by Ghenie was selling for in the low five figures.

Adrian Ghenie Nickelodeon (2008). Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd.

Adrian Ghenie, Nickelodeon (2008). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.

That same year, Ghenie had two solo shows in Berlin, at Plan B which featured works on paper, and at Nolan Judin Berlin, of 11 paintings, all of which were sold on opening night, according to gallery director David Nolan. The prices ranged from €8,000 to more than €40,000. A solo exhibition of Ghenie’s work was on view at Haunch of Venison’s Zurich branch—which Pinault owned via Artemis and Christie’s—that fall.

After these key shows, Ghenie had already seen a considerable jump in price, but this was only the beginning.

Adrian Ghenie, The Sunflowers in 1937 (2014).<br)Image: Courtesy Sotheby's London.

Adrian Ghenie, The Sunflowers in 1937 (2014).<br)Image: Courtesy Sotheby’s London.

More than eight of Ghenie’s works have fetched more than $1 million each at auction to date, according to the artnet Price Database.

In addition to Nickelodeon, the top works include: The Sunflowers in 1937 (2014), sold for £3 million ($4.5 million) at Sotheby’s London this past February; Self-Portrait as Vincent van Gogh (2012) sold for $2.6 million at Sotheby’s New York in May, far higher than the $200,000-to-$300,000 estimate; The Hunted (2010), sold for $2.5 million at Sotheby’s London in June; along with The Fake Rothko (2010), which sold for £1.4 million ($2.4 million).

Adrian Ghenie, <i>Study for Boogeyman</i> (2010). Courtesy Sothebys.

Adrian Ghenie, Study for Boogeyman (2010). Courtesy Sothebys.

This week’s offerings in New York will include Study for Boogeyman, a 2010 collage and acrylic on paper at Sotheby’s contemporary day sale on Friday, November 18, estimated at $18–25,000.

Adrian Ghenie, The Bridge (2015). Courtesy Christie's Images Ltd.

Adrian Ghenie, The Bridge (2015). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.

Christie’s postwar and contemporary afternoon sale on Wednesday, November 16, will include Pie Fight Study (2013) with an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.


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