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De Kooning’s Untitled XXV sets artist record

Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XXV has set a new auction record for the Dutch-American artist.
The 1977 oil on canvas sold for $66.3 million at Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York last night.

That was far above the $40 million estimate for the work, and a 9.4% per annum rise on its last sale of $27 million in 2006.

That’s evidence of the growing demand for both De Kooning and high-end contemporary art in the intervening years.

"The success of this work is a benchmark for the current marketplace, which is exceedingly receptive to works of the highest quality across a range of prices," said Sara Friedlander, Christie’s New York’s head of post-war and contemporary art.

At 77 by 88 inches, the work is De Kooning’s largest – a factor that often increases bids from buyers.

Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (809-2), consigned by musician Eric Clapton, sold for $22 million, while Jean Dubuffet’s Les Grande Artères achieved $23.8 million.

Christie’s chairman, Brett Gorvy, commenting on Dubuffet, said: "As a department, he is one of our favourite artists. We have been saying for a long time that he should be acclaimed as one of the most important artists of the 20th century."

The auction posted four other artist records: John Currin, Giuseppe Gallo, Jonathan Horowitz and Christopher Wool.

At $277 million, it is the biggest selling auction of New York Fall art week so far, although down on last year’s total of $331.8 million.

Monday’s sales were topped by Edward Munch’s $54.5 million Girls on the Bridge at Sotheby’s.

The auctions continue today with Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale and Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale.

Read JustCollecting’s guide to the week’s action

Just Collecting