Auction Results: Modern & Contemporary Evening and Day Auctions, March 6 and 7, 2024 @Sotheby’s London

The misdirection tactic of withdrawing lots right before auctions actually take place has become more prevalent in recent years, particularly with higher priced lots. When pre-sale interest in the work isn’t high enough, the consigner simply pulls the lot before the sale, to avoid having it fail to sell (or to sell for too low a price); when the numbers are tallied up, these ghost lots are omitted, as if they failed to exist in the first place, which isn’t actually accurate.

The recent Modern and Contemporary Art sales at Sotheby’s in London were marked by a significant photographic withdrawal, the top photo lot early Gilbert & George work, estimated at £350000-450000. Since this lot alone amounted to more than half the photographic value on offer in the sales, the subsequent results were quite a bit less interesting. Another early Gilbert & George work ended up with the top lot honors (albeit at a much lower price), but with few photo lots on offer and no positive surprises, the Total Sale Proceeds for photography (of roughly £225K) fell below the low end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 5
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate £275000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate £405000
Total Lots Sold 4
Total Lots Bought In 1
Buy In % 20.00%
Total Sale Proceeds £226020

Here is the breakdown (using our usual Low, Mid, and High price tier definitions):

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 0
Total Low Lots Sold NA
Total Low Lots Bought In NA
Low Buy In % NA
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots £0
Total Proceeds from Low Lots £0
Mid Total Lots 1
Total Mid Lots Sold 1
Total Mid Lots Bought In 0
Mid Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots £40000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots £38100
Total High Lots 4
Total High Lots Sold 3
Total High Lots Bought In 1
High Buy In % 25.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots £365000
Total Proceeds from High Lots £187960

The top photography lot by High estimate was lot 44, Gilbert & George, Coming, 1975, estimated at £350000-450000; it was withdrawn. The top photography outcome of the sales was lot 345, Gilbert & George, Dusty Corners No. 18, 1975, estimated at £80000-120000, sold at £88900 (image above, via Sotheby’s).

100.00% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there were no positive surprises in the sales (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate).

The complete lot by lot results can be found here (Modern and Contemporary Evening) and here (Modern and Contemporary Day).

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