By the Numbers: A Breakdown of Results from Christie’s 20th-Century Evening Sale, May 2024

Let the numbers tell the story.

David Hockney's A Lawn Being Sprinkled (1967), which sold for $28.6 million. Photo courtesy of Christie's.

Christie’s held the final evening sale of the week in New York, achieving the highest total of the past five days, despite headwinds from the security breach that brought down its website.

The auction was efficient but lackluster, and people got deals as many lots fell short of their low estimates. To ensure that works would sell, and that the auction would have a solid sell-through rate, Christie’s withdrew three lots and lined up 12 last-minute third-party guarantees.

Auctioneer Adrien Meyer moved along at a brisk pace, wrapping things up in less than two hours.  “If people are reasonable, things will sell,” the Manhattan dealer Edward Tyler Nahem said. “Sellers need to lower their expectations. They shouldn’t be based on a year ago or five years ago.”

Total Sales After Fees: $413.3 million

Total Sales of Equivalent Sale Last Year: $328.8 million (plus $178 million from a concurrent sale of works from the collection of S.I. Newhouse)

Hammer Total: $346.5 million

Top Seller: Andy Warhol’s Flowers (1964), $30.5 million hammer ($35.5 million with fees)

Lots on Offer: 64

Lots Withdrawn: 3

Lots Sold: 58

Lots Bought In: 3

Sell-through Rate: 90.6 percent

Sell-through Rate After Withdrawals: 95.1 percent

Presale Low Estimate: $345.9 million

Presale Low Estimate After Withdrawals: $340.9 million

Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate: +$600,000

Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate (revised after withdrawals): +$5.6 million

Lots With House Guarantees: 13

Lots With Third-Party Guarantees: 21

Total Low Estimate of Withdrawn Lots: $5 million

Total Low Estimate of Guaranteed Lots: $149.8 million (43.3 percent of total presale low estimate)

Total Low Estimate of Third-Party Guaranteed Lots: $196 million (56.7 percent of total presale low estimate)

Quote of the Night: “For a flower painting to achieve $35 million is unheard of, in any market,” said Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th- and 21st-century art, who brought in the consignment, after chasing it for 15 years.

Parting Shot: Lyn Lear, whose collection generated $60.2 million during the sale, felt emotional leaving Christie’s. Passing by the pictures that once hung in the home she shared with her late husband, Hollywood writer and producer Norman Lear, she stopped and blew them a kiss. “Goodbye, my beloveds,” she said.

Next Sale Up: Christie’s 20th-century day sale on Friday.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.