Street Theater? A Famous Banksy Self-Destructs Live as Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sales Fetch $91.5

Banksy's Girl with a Balloon

Banksy's Girl with a Balloon appeared to shred itself after selling for $1.4 million at Sotheby's on Friday night. Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s managed to squeeze two sales and a prank into its Frieze week evening auction of contemporary art on Friday. The first sale consisted of 25 works from the estate of US management consultant David Teiger, all of which sold for a top estimate of £35.9 million ($47.1 million).

A well-respected figure on the European circuit, Teiger bought new art from the leading dealers of the ’90s and the aughts—rarely, if ever, at auction.

The sale got off to an electric start with a 2002 painting by German artist Kai Althoff. Modestly estimated between £80,000 and £120,000, it attracted bidding from several dealers, including Nicolai Frahm, before racing to a record £574,000 ($753,000). (Prices include buyer’s premium; estimates do not.)

Another German artist to attract competition was painter Daniel Richter, whose Jeans (2002) saw his European dealer, Thaddaeus Ropac, locked in conflict with several Asian bidders before falling to one of the latter for a triple estimate record of £442,000 ($579,904).

The selection Sotheby’s made for the London sale was understandably UK-centric, with seven of the top 10 most valuable lots being by British artists.

Top of the list was Jenny Saville’s massive exercise in painting flesh—Propped—a naked self-portrait made when she was graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 1992. It was acquired shortly afterward for about £4,000 ($5,248) by Charles Saatchi, who took ownership of all her work in return for a free studio space and a stipend to live on.




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