The Art Newspaper : Brave new world: Francis Bacon triptych sells for $84.5m in Sotheby’s first major live-streamed evening sale

“A lot was riding on Sotheby’s marquee evening auctions, held entirely online and live-streamed from Hong Kong, London and New York for a grueling four-and-a-half hours last night. This was the first major public test of the high-end international art market since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

As fatigued staff finally tallied up the totals, the firm was right to talk about success: overall, the sales racked up an impressive $363.2m (with fees), nudging the upper end of the presale target range of $262.1m to $368.4m (calculated without fees). Lot after lot scored well, including Royal Fireworks, a blazing orange-hued canvas from 1975 by Helen Frankenthaler from the 18-lot Ginny Williams collection, which opened the evening. It rocketed over expectations of $2m-$3m to make $7.9m (with fees), more than doubling the previous high for the artist.

Everything about the sale was innovative. The first major evening sale to be held entirely online, it featured auctioneer Oliver Barker alone in a curved booth, filmed in London, fielding bids from banks of screens in front of him. Those screens showed the specialists in the three cities, spaced out in tiered stands and signalling their bids to Barker; online bidders were also active.”

Auctioneer Oliver Barker takes bids from phones and online bidders

Artnet News: Led by a Sizzling Bacon, Sotheby’s First-Ever Hybrid Contemporary Evening Sale Format Nets an Impressive $300.4 Million

“If a time traveler from 2019 arrived at Sotheby’s evening sale on Monday evening, she would have been very confused by what she saw. There was no packed salesroom, no paddles, no air kissing. Instead, specialists were stationed six feet apart on tiered rows of phone banks and the entire production was livestreamed simultaneously from Hong Kong, London, and New York. The auction marked the first major test of the art-market’s upper echelons during the social-distancing era—and it would be fair to say the house passed.

In all, the marathon evening generated a total of $363.2 million and consisted of three parts: a single-owner sale of works assembled by the late cable television mogul Ginny Williams; postwar and contemporary selections; and an Impressionist and Modern art coda. (More on that final chapter here.)

In total, Sotheby’s postwar and contemporary art offerings made $300.4 million: $65.5 million for the Williams collection and $234.9 million for the main PWC sale, which came in on the high end of the presale estimate range of $171.4 million to $239.1 million. (Final prices include the buyers’ premium; estimates do not.)

The most expensive lot of the night was Francis Bacon’s Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus (1981), which fetched $84.6 million with fees, just over the pre-sale high estimate of $80 million. It was offered by a foundation tied to Norwegian billionaire Hans Rasmus Astrup.”

Sotheby’s salesroom in New York during its June 2020 evening sale. Photo: Sotheby’s.