And when fees are added, it should also exceed the colossal $110.5 million spent by the Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa for a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting at Sotheby’s contemporary auction in May. The allure of Leonardo has already inspired Paramount to buy the film rights to Walter Isaacson’s newly published biography of the Italian Renaissance artist, with Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead.
“It’s an iconic picture and an iconic name,” Jean-Luc Baroni, a dealer in old masters, based in London, said of the Leonardo. “By putting it in a contemporary sale, they shine a big light on the painting.” And for clients of contemporary art, “the price level might sound less prohibitive,” he added.
Impressionist, modern and contemporary art with an estimated value of least $1.6 billion will be offered at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. The value of these consignments, which include works by Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, Fernand Leger and Franz Kline, as well as, incongruously, a Ferrari racecar, represents an increase of more than 46 percent over the equivalent auctions last November.
The $110.5 million bid in May for the 1982 Basquiat was the most dramatic indicator of how the auction market for contemporary art has grown over the last six months. After two years of contraction, global auction sales of contemporary art grew 14 percent in the first half of 2017, “signaling a new period of prosperity,” according to a report published by Artprice.com, which monitors auction results.
David Nisinson, a collector and art adviser based in New York, said that a year ago there was uncertainty about how the United States election would affect the stock market, but “it’s just continued to go up. There’s a lot of unexpected money around, and some of it is very confident,” Mr. Nisinson said.
Confident buyers give confidence to sellers, particularly when their entries are backed by guaranteed prices. About…