SOTHEBY’S ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK that it was being acquired by French-Israeli telecommunications billionaire Patrick Drahi in a $3.7 billion deal. The purchase would take the publicly traded auction house private, again, after 31 years on the New York Stock Exchange. (Other major auction houses are privately held, including Christie’s, its chief rival, Phillips, and Bonhams.) According to the New York Post, the pending transaction has attracted at least two counteroffers for Sotheby’s.

The news comes as Sotheby’s prepares for contemporary sales in London today and tomorrow (June 26-27) and follows spring sales in New York last month, where new records were established by six African American artists—Kevin Beasley, McArthur Binion, Michael Ray Charles, Charles Gaines, Rashid Johnson, and Alma Thomas (1891-1978).


Lot 54: CHARLES GAINES, “Numbers and Trees: Central Park Series IV: Tree #6, Carmichael,” 2019 (acrylic sheet, acrylic paint, lacquer, and wood, 78 3/8 x 59 5/8 x 5 3/4 inches / 199.1 x 151.4 x 14.6 cm). This work in unique | Estimate $150,000-$200,000. Sold for $475,000 (fees included). RECORD


Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction (May 16) featured 63 lots and opened with “Garden Spot” (1989) by Robert Colescott. The painting sold for $704,000 (including fees), twice the estimate.

Later in the sale, “Numbers and Trees: Central Park Series IV: Tree #6, Carmichael” (2019) by Gaines and Johnson’s “Untitled Escape Collage” (2019) set new artist records. Both works were made this year. Expected to reach $200,000-$300,000, Johnson’s mixed media painting surpassed $1 million, selling for $1,160,000 (including fees).

The next day, new benchmarks were set for Beasley, Binion, Charles, and Thomas during the Contemporary Art Day Auction (May 17). Notably, Binion’s “DNA: White Painting II” (2015) sold for $750,000 (including fees). Expected to yield $70,000-$100,000, the price was seven times the high estimate.

Works donated by 40 artists were offered in both the day and evening auctions with the proceeds benefitting the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Beasley, Gaines, Johnson, Frank Bowling, Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon, Meleko Mokgosi, Christina Quarles, Lorna Simpson, and Henry Taylor were among the artists who contributed to the Artists for the Hammer Museum sale.

Additional works by artists of African descent appeared across the two auctions. Works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Barkley L. Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Jack Whitten appeared in the evening auction. The day auction also featured Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Simone Leigh, and Oscar Murillo.

A selection of lots from Sotheby’s contemporary sales in New York, including the record-breaking works, are featured below:

Contemporary Art Evening Auction | May 16


Lot 1: ROBERT COLESCOTT, “Garden Spot,” 1989 (acrylic on canvas with mixed media collage, 87 1/2 x 75 1/2 inches / 222.3 x 191.8 cm). | Estimate $200,000-$300,000. Sold for $704,000 (fees included)



Lot 3: JULIE MEHRETU, “Arcade,” 2005 (ink and acrylic on canvas, 84 1/4 x 120 1/4 inches / 214 x 305.4 cm). | Estimate $2,500,000-$3,500,000. Sold for $3,020,000 (fees included)


Lot 8: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, “Untitled (Head),” 1982 (ink and oilstick on paper, 30 x 22 inches / 76.2 x 55.9 cm). | Estimate $3,000,000-$4,000,000. Sold for $4,100,000 (fees included)


Lot 11: LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, “No Word of Gratitude,” 2012 (oil on canvas, 78 3/4 x 51 1/4 inches / 200 x 130.2 cm). | Estimate $250,000-$350,000. Sold for $680,000 (fees included)


FIND MORE At Phillips, “Leave A Brick Under The Maple” (2015), a life-sized portrait by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is up for auction tomorrow in London (June 27)


Lot 32: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “A Little Romance,” 1990 (acrylic and collage on canvas, unframed: 52 1/2 x 63 3/8 inches / 133.3 x 161 cm). | Estimate $1,800,000-$2,500,000. Sold for $2,420,000 (fees included)


READ MORE on Culture Type: Paintings by Kerry James Marshall have soared recently. Sold for $21.2 million in May 2018, “Past Times” (1997) is the most expensive work by a living African American artist at auction. In March, “Untitled (Painter)” (2008) reached $7.3 million.


Lot 40: BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS (1945 – 2017), “Yocks,” 1975 (oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 1/8 by 42 in. 183.2 by 106.7 cm). | Estimate $900,000-$1,200,000. Sold for $3,740,000 (fees included)


One month after Barkley L. Hendricks died in April 2017, this painting was consigned for sale at Sotheby’s. It came from a “distinguished East Coast collection” and was estimated to sell for $300,000-$400,000. It sold for more than twice that, yielding $942,500. Two years later, listed as “property from an important European collection,” the painting reached nearly four times the amount, selling for more than $3.7 million.

READ MORE on Culture Type: About the posthumous sale of three paintings by Barkley L. Hendricks at Sotheby’s


Lot 55: MARK BRADFORD, “Scratch Pink,” 2018 (mixed media on canvas, 60 x 48 inches / 152.4 x 121.9 cm). | Estimate $2,000,000-$3,000,000. Sold for $3,020,000 (fees included)


Lot 57: RASHID JOHNSON, “Untitled Escape Collage,” 2019 (ceramic tile, mirror tile, vinyl, spray enamel, oil stick, black soap, and wax, 73 x 97 inches / 185.4 x 246.4 cm). | Estimate $200,000-$300,000. Sold for $1,160,000 (fees included). RECORD


Lot 60: JACK WHITTEN, “Kappa Group II,” 1976 (acrylic on canvas, 76 x 64 inches / 193 x 162.6 cm). | Estimate $800,000-$1,200,000. Sold for $2,180,000 (including fees)

Contemporary Art Day Auction | May 17

Lot 103: ALMA THOMAS, “Azaleas,” 1969 (acrylic on canvas, 23 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches / 59.7 x 80 cm). | Estimate $400,000-$600,000. Sold for $740,000 (fees included). RECORD


Lot 165: JACOB LAWRENCE, Untitled (Another Patrol),” 1946 (oil on Masonite, 16 1/8 x 12 3/4 inches / 41 x 32.4 cm). | Estimate $400,000-$600,000. Sold for $620,000 (fees included)


READ MORE on Culture Type: “The Businessmen” (1947) by Jacob Lawrence sold for a record-breaking $6.1 million last fall


Lot 528: MCARTHUR BINION, “DNA: White Painting II,” 2015 (oilstick and printed paper collage on board, 72 x 96 inches / 182.9 x 243.8 cm). | Estimate $70,000-$100,000. Sold for $750,000 (fees included). RECORD


FIND MORE Lehmann Maupin is currently presenting McArthur Binion exhibitions in Hong Kong and Seoul, his first-ever shows in Asia


Lot 413: MELEKO MOKGOSI, “Objects of Desire 2,” 2012-16 (oil on canvas and paper mounted on board, in 6 parts, largest: 20 x 20 inches / 50.8 x 50.8 cm.; smallest: 12 x 9 inches / 30.5 x 22.9 cm). Installation dimensions variable. | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $50,000 (fees included)


READ MORE on Culture Type: Meleko Mokgosi was recently appointed a professor of painting at the Yale School of Art


Lot 414: FRANK BOWLING, “Cyclist Too,” 2017 (acrylic on collaged canvas, 26 3/8 x 29 3/8 inches / 66.7 x 74.6 cm). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $68,750 (fees included)


READ MORE on Culture Type: The first major retrospective of Frank Bowling is on view at Tate Britain


Lot 432: LORNA SIMPSON, “Speechless,” 2017 (collage and ink on paper, sheet: 11 x 8 1/2 inches / 27.9 x 21.6 cm. framed: 12 3/8 x 10 x 1 1/2 inches / 30.5 x 24.1 x 3.8 cm). | Estimate $12,000-$18,000. Sold for $43,750 (fees included)


FIND MORE “Lorna Simpson: Darkening,” the artist’s first New York solo exhibition with Hauser & Wirth is currently on view


Lot 435: KEVIN BEASLEY, “Untitled (Spring),” 2019 (polyurethane resin, raw Virginia cotton, canvas and housedress, 28 1/2 x 17 by 9 inches / 72.4 x 43.2 x 22.9 cm). | Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Sold for $27,500 (fees included). RECORD


Lot 529: MICHAEL RAY CHARLES, “Forever Free, One and Another,” 2009 (acrylic and copper penny on canvas, 56 1/4 x 67 7/8 inches / 143 x 172.5 cm). | Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Sold for $100,000 (fees included). RECORD


Lot 530: HENRY TAYLOR, “‘The Young, The Brave, Bobby Hutton’ R.I.P. Oakland, California,” 2007 (acrylic, charcoal and graphite on canvas, 90 1/8 x 67 inches / 228.9 x 170.2 cm).| Estimate $180,000-$250,000. Sold for $225,000 (fees included)


This Henry Taylor painting depicting young Black Panther member Bobby Hutton set what was then an artist record at Christie’s in March 2017. Against an estimate of $35,000-$45,000, it sold for $235,500, about $10,000 more than it yielded last month.

Two additional paintings by Henry Taylor were offered in the May 17 auction, “Larry Dunn and Your Life Expectancy” (2004) and Untitled (Girl on Green Couch), which was donated by the artist to benefit the Hammer Museum

READ MORE on Culture Type: About Henry Taylor’s 2007 painting “‘The Young, The Brave, Bobby Hutton’ R.I.P. Oakland, California”


Lot 633: SIMONE LEIGH Untitled, 2003 (painted ceramic with base, 22 x 25 x 25 inches / 55.9 x 63.5 x 63.5 cm). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $50,000 (fees included)


READ MORE on Culture Type: A similar work by Simone Leigh sold for $93,750 at Swann Auction Galleries in April, setting an artist record.

FIND MORE Simone Leigh’s work is currently on view at three venues in New York City: Her solo exhibition “The Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat” is at the Guggenheim Museum; “Brick House” is the inaugural Plinth commission on the High Line; and she is featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. CT


FIND MORE “No More Starving Artists: Why the Art Market Needs a Universal Artist Resale Royalty Right” (2017) by Allison Schten makes an academic argument for artists benefitting directly from auction sales of their work


A selection of volumes document the work of the record-breaking artists. Published last year, “Kevin Beasley” is the artist’s first monograph. “McArthur Binion: Re:Mine,” which is also the artist’s first monograph, features contributions by Lowery Stokes Sims and Franklin Sirmans. In addition, consider “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989,” “Alma Thomas,” “Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks” and “Rashid Johnson.” Forthcoming in January, “Michael Ray Charles: A Retrospective” documents the artist’s practice, dating to the 1990s. Also of interest, “Lorna Simpson Collages,” “Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi,” and “Frank Bowling,” a forthcoming volume that documents the artist’s retrospective currently at Tate Britain. Finally, the forthcoming “Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott” accompanies the largest traveling exhibition of Robert Colescott ever organized. The show opens Sept. 19, 2019, at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati. The fully illustrated volume is co-authored by Lowery Stokes Sims, Raphaela Platow, and Matthew Weseley.


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