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Art market

Key lots: Post-war and contemporary

Yves Klein, Günther Uecker, and Peter Doig are this season's highlights

Yves Klein, Relief Éponge (aka RE 47 II), 1961, sold for £5.87m (est £5m-£7m)

“Klein is a classic,” said Thaddaeus Ropac. “There aren’t many amazing works on the market, so if you have an outstanding piece it will sell for a lot of money.” The gold sponge relief work—Christie’s top lot—went to a European private bidder while the next lot, Anthropometrie (ANT 5), 1962, a female nude outlined in quintessential Klein blue, more than doubled £2m high estimate, going for £4.1m to Laurence Graff who said: “It is a very special work.” He added: “I have always been confident in the market. People will always want to buy top quality.” Three Klein works in Sotheby’s Zero sale did well, including F88, 1961, which, despite rumours of poor condition, fetched £3.3m (est £2.8m-£3.5m).

Günther Uecker, Haar der Nymphen, 1964, sold for £825,250 (est £100,000-£150,000)

Uecker was hot property, with three works in the Zero sale pulling in a combined total of £1.5m against an estimated £220,000-£310,000. “The lesser-known artists held up against the superstars,” said Cheyenne Westphal who curated the Zero offerings. “It’s a recalibrated market for these artists.” Uecker’s previous auction record was E444,750 for Energetic Bilds Feld, 1965, at Sotheby’s Paris in December 2009.

Peter Doig, Saint Anton (Flat Light), 1995-96, sold for £2.8m (est £2m-£3m)

Sotheby’s cover lot fell slightly short of expectations, coming squarely within estimate and far from the headline grabbing sale of Reflection (What Does Your Soul Look Like), 1996, which made £10.2m at Christie's, New York last November. The next night at Christie’s, Doig’s Concrete Cabin West Side, 1993, also failed to ignite, realising £2m (est £2m-£3m). “It was the most surprising lot of the night,” said Christie’s Brett Gorvy. “It was one of those weird auction moments where buyers probably thought they would be priced out.” One trade source said the works were “less commercially appealing” than Reflection. “They should be judged on a case-by-case basis. They went for the right prices—and still made big numbers.”