Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer Sells for $27.7 Million at Sotheby's

Sotheby's spring auctions in New York grossed $234.6 million, led by Francis Bacon's "Portrait of George Dyer Crouching" selling for $27.7 million. The sales featured works by Kerry James Marshall, Lucy Bull, and others, with a subdued atmosphere amidst cautious optimism in the market.

author-image
Trim Correspondents
New Update
Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer Sells for $27.7 Million at Sotheby's

Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer Sells for $27.7 Million at Sotheby's

On Monday, May 14, 2024, Sotheby's kicked off its spring auctions in New York with a pair of contemporary art sales, grossing $234.6 million. The evening's main highlight was Francis Bacon's Portrait of George Dyer Crouching (1966), which sold for $27.7 million, below its estimated range of $30 million to $50 million.

The sale, titled "The Now," focused on "ultra-contemporary" material and realized $32.7 million across 17 lots, within its revised estimate of $24 million to $34.6 million. However, one of its star lots, a Cecily Brown painting, was withdrawn just before the sale's start.

Other notable sales included Kerry James Marshall's Vignette 6 (2005), which sold for $7.4 million, within its estimated range of $7 million to $10 million; Lucy Bull's 16:10 (2020), which set a new auction record for the artist at $1.8 million, exceeding its estimated range of $500,000 to $700,000; Cecily Brown's Functor Hideaway (2008), which sold for $3.6 million; Joan Mitchell's Noon (1969), which went for $22.6 million, besting its estimated range of $20 million; and Lucio Fontana's Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (1964), which sold for $23 million, within its estimated range of $20 million to $30 million.

The salesroom was packed, but the atmosphere was subdued, with many attendees expressing caution in the market. Despite this, some dealers were upbeat. Private dealer Andrew Terner stated, "Given the shaky world out there, Sotheby's did the work and for the most part achieved respectable results."

The major May sales of modern and contemporary art kicked off this week in New York, with cautious optimism in the air. Despite a decrease in the volume of material on offer, art advisor Todd Levin noted that the auctions are "much tighter now" with fewer instances of houses pulling works mid-sale for lack of interest.

Other key sales and estimates include Phillips' evening sale, which has a low estimate of $90 million, up from $73 million last fall, and features a fresh-to-the-market Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled ELMAR (1982), estimated to sell for $40 million to $60 million, making it the priciest lot of the week. Christie's 21st Century Evening Sale, with a low estimate of $104 million, just above its $99 million low estimate last fall, features Felix Gonzalez Torres' Untitled America 3 (1992), estimated to sell for $8 million to $12 million.

Market trends and insights indicate collectors are not feeling compelled to cash in on their works unless an artist's auction market looks particularly compelling. There has also been a resurgence of interest in Impressionism, with new buyers turning their attention to the market. The auction houses have built their sales "brick by brick, consignment by consignment," according to art advisor Megan Fox Kelly.

The Norman Lear collection and the late Miami collector Rosa de la Cruz's collection will be closely watched during the auctions. Sotheby's contemporary evening sale has a low estimate of $217 million, up from $202 million last fall. The sales of Francis Bacon's portrait of George Dyer and other major works this week in New York reflect a resilient art market, even amidst economic uncertainty. As the auctions progress, all eyes will be on the final results to gauge the strength and direction of the contemporary art market in 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • Sotheby's spring auctions in New York gross $234.6 million.
  • Francis Bacon's "Portrait of George Dyer Crouching" sells for $27.7 million.
  • "The Now" sale realizes $32.7 million, within revised estimate.
  • Notable sales include Kerry James Marshall, Lucy Bull, and Joan Mitchell works.
  • Auctions reflect resilient art market despite economic uncertainty.