Pop art collected by Gunter Sachs, ex-husband of Bridget Bardot, to be auctioned in London

LONDON — A modern art collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Salvador Dali, will be sold next week in London, Sotheby’s said Saturday.

The works were collected by German-born photographer Gunter Sachs, best known for his playboy lifestyle and brief marriage to French actress Brigitte Bardot. He committed suicide at the age of 78 in May 2011.

Sachs had collected hundreds of art works over his lifetime and was friends with many key artists of the 20th century, including Warhol, Dali and Georges Mathieu.

Warhol’s portrait of Bridget Bardot, Sachs’ second wife, is one of the works being auctioned. A white plaster bust of Bardot by Alain Gourdon also is for sale.

Sotheby’s will auction the 300 pieces on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it expects them to fetch more than 20 million pounds ($32 million).

Sachs made his name as a photographer, documentary filmmaker and art collector. He lived a jet set lifestyle, spending time with top artists in Paris and New York.

Oliver Barker, a contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s, said: “Gunter’s unique contribution was his sex appeal, his handsome good looks,” and his “the promotion of American art in Europe in the 1970s.”

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No Sign of Financial Crisis at Postwar Art Sales

NEW YORK — Big money continues to pour over postwar and contemporary art. At Sotheby’s Wednesday evening sale, 46 works of the 57 that were on offer sold for $266.6 million.

Gigantic prices were paid for paintings by the most famous artists of the second half of the 20th century. The three most expensive works were iconic pictures executed by artists long dead.

Roy Lichtenstein, one of the shining lights of New York Pop Art, painted “Sleeping Girl” in 1964. The picture was included in the artist’s show that year at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles where it was bought by a couple of renowned collectors, Philip and Beatrice Gersh. The portrait remained in their collection for nearly half a century and never hit the market until this week. Sotheby’s estimate was set at an extremely ambitious $30 million to $40 million, plus a sale charge of over 12 percent. “Sleeping Girl” managed to edge its way up to a world-record $44.88 million.

Moments later, it was Francis Bacon’s turn to cause a stir with a picture also set in the concrete of art history. The British artist painted “Figure Writing Reflected in a Mirror” in 1976 and took it to Paris to be exhibited in a one-man show at the Galerie Claude Bernard in early 1977.

The huge composition (198 by 147 centimeters, or 78 by 58 inches), which served as the exhibition poster, was acquired there and then by a European collector who sold it this week.

Never before offered in the market, the Bacon had everything in its favor. The artist’s works are scarce, and its large size made this one rarer still. “Figure Reflected in a Mirror” was further enhanced by its past history. It carried the same estimate as Lichtenstein’s “Sleeping Girl” and realized the same price, $44.88 million.

The third highest price on Wednesday evening was the most remarkable in its own way. “Double Elvis [Ferus Type],” a monumental image at over 207 centimeters high, in silk screen print and paint, was executed by Andy Warhol in 1963, just as Pop Art was taking off on a grand scale.

Warhol has been elevated to the status of a folk hero in the global news media over the past four decades, as has the subject of the picture, Elvis Presley, seen standing legs apart, revolver in hand. Warhol’s source for the image was a publicity still for a movie, “Flaming Star,” starring Presley as the gunslinger Pacer Burton.

But “Double Elvis [Ferus Type]” suffers from a weakness. The grayish hue lacks the punch given by color to the Warhol works that are most admired by his fans. The estimate, $30 million to $50 million, plus the sale charge, was a tall order. Somehow, the gray picture ascended to $37.04 million, which says a great deal about the keenness of contemporary art buyers for very large iconic works with famous names attached to them.

Two lots down, yet another gray image confirmed that the thirst of postwar and contemporary art buyers for very large works signed by artists who rose to world fame in the 1960s is unquenchable. “Untitled (New York City), 1970,” signed by Cy Twombly, could not be further removed from the Warhol.

The work is abstract, not figural. A dark gray panel is covered with regular lines of rhythmical white scribbling. Sotheby’s expected it to be knocked down between $15 million and $20 million. It fetched $17.44 million, setting one more world record.

Had Sotheby’s been lucky enough to garner as many imposing post-World War II works as Christie’s there is little doubt that the Wednesday session would have aroused the same enthusiasm. The enormous prices paid for the Lichtenstein, the Bacon, the Warhol and the Twombly demonstrate that buyers were as eager as ever.

But seen together, the 57 lots that came up at Sotheby’s made up a far less impressive sale. Several lots sold on just one bid and 11 of them fell unwanted in an atmosphere that was quite dull during the second half of the session.

Yet demand was strong enough throughout for works of lesser importance to do very well as long as they lent themselves to instant identification.

Lichtenstein’s “Sailboats III, 1974,” was brilliantly sold at $11.84 million, even though this later period of the artist is less sought after. On its appearance at Christie’s in May 1998, the price paid by the consignor was a more modest $1.37 million.

Jean Michel Basquiat’s “Ring,” done in the manner of a naughty schoolboy chalking cartoons on the blackboard in the master’s absence, shot up to $7.64 million. In June 1999, at Christie’s in Los Angeles, the Basquiat had cost the late collector Theodore J. Forstmann a mere $442,500.

Even if less successful than the Christie’s Tuesday session, Sotheby’s evening auction on Wednesday illustrates the spectacular appreciation of most of the artists who rose to fame in the second half of the 20th century. But it also indicates that those artists’ less recognizable works can perform unpredictably.

Robert Rauschenberg’s “Primo Calle/Roci Venezuela” is a 1985 composition executed in a manner that differs from the Pop artist’s earlier work. This week’s consignor paid $2.61 million when it came up at Sotheby’s in November 2007. On Wednesday, the Rauschenberg, which carried a $2 million to $3 million estimate plus the sale charge, interested no one.

Those who seek gilt-edged securities in postwar and contemporary art need to make sure they are in a position to identify the right targets.

Connecting the dots on Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at Art Institute

By Christopher Borrelli Chicago Tribune reporter

If you're going to the new Roy Lichtenstein retrospective opening May 22 at the Art Institute of Chicago, do this: Stop at the giant display graphic that serves as the show's entrance and turn to the right. Hanging just inside the doorway to the first gallery is Lichtenstein's iconic "Look Mickey" from 1961, a large replica of a Golden Book panel that shows Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck fishing. It's the first of several Lichtenstein works that established him in the 1960s (alongside Andy Warhol) as one of the most important artists of the '60s pop art movement. The only name on the work, however, is Lichtenstein's; the creator of the original goes unnamed.

In a 1966 interview with the BBC, Lichtenstein said he initially used the panels for reference, copying Mickey and Donald into abstracted works (two of which are included in the show). But he was more taken with the originals than his interpretations, and the thought "of doing one without apparent alteration just occurred."

This, of course — colorful, subtly altered mimicking of comic book art — became Lichtenstein's signature.

Now turn to the left.

Just beyond that doorway is the show's last gallery. Hanging on the wall facing you is one of the replicas of Chinese landscape art that Lichtenstein painted in the 1990s, works that used many of the elements — a clean look, bright colors, tiny Ben-Day graphic dots — he famously employed in his '60s comic art images.

"I love standing in this spot, seeing old and new," said James Rondeau, the Art Institute's curator of contemporary art and organizer of the retrospective. "Because this show is about transformation — how you can take something that exists in the world and, in order to make it art, rethink and distill, then send it back in such a way we all learn something about it. That Mickey piece shows us something about our culture, the way we think about images. Then turn, and you see where Roy was heading. And it's Lichtenstein saying this Song Dynasty landscape is the same as that comic art, that both are graphic languages, that both use pictorial conventions. He's saying art history, fine art and commercial art are collapsing together, always."

He's also preaching to the choir.

At least he is in 2012.

Decades ago, Lichtenstein, without necessarily intending to be, was radical. Years before any hip-hop artist ever sampled James Brown, his work was a quasi lecture on art appropriation. And he reignited the once-caustic debate about the legitimacy of fine art versus popular art — a debate that, decades later, feels as irrelevant and uninformed as the question of whether a comic book can be sophisticated and smart.

Indeed, the Lichtenstein show — which includes more than 160 works and spends considerable time on less familiar, more abstract periods of Lichtenstein's five-decade career — is far from radical, not even particularly surprising. If anything, it's a confirmation of Lichtenstein's points, a kind of conversation about how stiff the cultural conversation once was. "Roy insisted on the authority of the artificial. We live in that world now," Rondeau said. "We don't theorize it. We take it for granted. His ideas are our cultural oxygen."

And yet, if so, why not mention the original comic book artists? Even hip-hop (mostly) acknowledges its inspirations and appropriations and blatant thefts. But in exhibitions of Lichtenstein's art, almost never.

Hilary Barta is 54, lives in Lincoln Square and has the sunken, exhausted eyes of a guy who works far into the night. For the past 30 years, he has been a comic book artist. He is not a superstar — or an unknown. He started out working for Marvel on X-Men and The Thing comics; he has since worked as an artist-for-hire (a fairly common industry arrangement) for every major comic book publisher and, being widely known in publishing circles as a talented satirist, he's currently drawing "Simpsons" and"SpongeBob SquarePants" comics.

He's also the kind of workaday comic book artist Lichtenstein would have borrowed from, if Lichtenstein started today.

We asked Barta to come to a preview of the Lichtenstein show. We got the idea after attending an Art Institute-sponsored panel in April featuring acclaimed comic book artists. Though the panel was intended to celebrate Lichtenstein, Neal Adams, a celebrated superhero artist, let loose: "(Lichtenstein) stole from everybody," he said. "Every comic book artist curses his name!" Afterward we called Gary Gianni, a Chicago cartoonist (and former Tribune illustrator) known for drawing the syndicated "Prince Valiant" newspaper strip. "I never thought of Lichtenstein as stealing millions from pockets of struggling illustrators," he said. "But some do see it that way. I think now that the line between his work and the work he took has blurred so much that frankly I would rather see a show now about the artists he took from than a Lichtenstein show."

We invited Geof Darrow, another Chicago comic book artist, known for "Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot" (as well his designs in the "Matrix" trilogy), to come with us to the preview. He said he would probably be too incensed to be very fair: "Why not run a concurrent show of Lichtenstein's art sources for once?" he asked.

Barta was more agnostic, more uncertain of his feelings. We stood before the 1961 Mickey painting.

"My first thought is that this is not a very good comic book panel," he chuckled. "This was originally most likely done with paint and a certain amount of style and well-crafted. But Lichtenstein removed all that style."

As we walked into the gallery devoted to Lichtenstein's iconic comic art appropriations, he was struck by the scale. He said he was struck by how cold they were compared with the originals — how stripped of soul the images seemed.

He walked from piece to piece, from barking submarine commanders to swooning heroines to blazing machine guns, identifying the original artists — John Romita, Jack Kirby. "You know what's incredible," he said, "is how subtle Lichtenstein is, how muted. They don't come off like a pretentious take on comic books at all. They're very simple. He clearly made them a very different thing, no question."

Then he stopped and read the wall copy

"'Cliches'? They call these panels cliches?" he asked, more to himself. "Do they really mean that?" He sounded hurt. He read on. He pointed to a mention of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock. He noted that the individual comic book titles are acknowledged but artists' names are missing. He was not shocked: "But I think that's condescending. Not from the Art Institute. It's a general condescension from the art world. They find the thoughtfulness to cite fine artists but not other artists? Truth is, it probably doesn't occur to them."

Jack Cowart, executive director of the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, has heard the complaints. He said that Lichtenstein was never sued for copyright infringement and, when the pieces were initially celebrated in the 1960s, comic book publishers never raised the issue.

Asked why the artists are never cited, he said that acknowledging the source material would have made Lichtenstein's work too much about the original and that viewers wouldn't be able to take the new work at face value. Rondeau doesn't disagree.


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He said he never wanted to ground the show in any outside context, "which could become insistent. I think the (original) work has equal value. I do. But it's just not my field. It belongs to a study of material culture and illustration."

Rondeau said Lichtenstein was never disingenuous. Pointing to the large Ben-Day dots inside a painting of a magnifying glass lens, he said: "See, Roy's showing you what he did, literally showing you his methods."

Indeed, artist Laurie Lambrecht, a former Lichtenstein assistant, remembers the man as deliberate, modest — "He once told me far more talented people worked just as hard, but their careers never took off like his."

Even David Barsalou, a retired art teacher in Massachusetts who has been documenting Lichtenstein's original sources since 1979, said the shaming of Lichtenstein was never his intention, "just equal recognition for artists often as educated and visually sophisticated as fine artists." Lichtenstein's "Look Mickey," for instance, was the work of two Disney artists, Bob Grant and Bob Totten.

Rick Yager, another illustrator appropriated by Lichtenstein (though none of those works are in the new show), attended the School of the Art Institute. Barsalou has documented about 150 such pieces, posting the results on his website, Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein.

Joe Kubert, now 85, is one of the artists Lichtenstein often used. Kubert has never really minded, he said.

"Appropriating or not, I think every artist steals," he said. "I have my motivations, and Lichtenstein had his." Ironically, on the Lichtenstein Foundation website, a picture of a growling comic book dog illustrates its warning to any potential copyright violators. It's a near perfect copy of a growling dog that Kubert once drew.

About midway though our walk-through, having passed by Lichtenstein's comic book years, his commercial illustration period, his Ben-Day dot mirrors, his sketch-pad pages, sculptures and a gallery devoted to several playful parodies of Picasso, Mondrian and Monet (none of whom are credited in gallery labels either, incidentally), Barta stopped short before a series of paintings of Lichtenstein's own studio. He could not pull his eyes from one piece in particular. It was white and yellow and from 1973. It shows a sofa, telephone, still-life fruits at the foot of furniture and, hanging on the wall in the picture, Lichtenstein's 1961 Mickey painting.

Very meta.

"Very pre-meta," Barta corrected.

The work is bright and charming, and only half of the painting-within-the-painting shows. Also, the painting-within-the-painting (hanging above the painted sofa) is smoother than the earlier, cruder take of the same image that opens the show. "Don't you think this is more about collecting art than about the work itself?" Barta asked. "It's definitely Lichtenstein having fun. A comment on his profession? Don't you think?"

Yes. And maybe.

If there's an especially glaring omission in this sprawling retrospective, it's one that can't be helped: A Roy Lichtenstein show in 2012 offers such an opportunity to discuss how much of our culture was anticipated by his art and methods, it's hard not to wish we could hear from the artist himself, who died in 1997 at 73. Then again, Lichtenstein once said his art was "anti-contemplative … anti all of those brilliant ideas of preceding movements which everyone understands so thoroughly." He never did say much — not nearly enough.

Said Cowart: "His work is so seemingly clear we tend to forget what he was actually up to. And unfortunately, Roy was not good at explaining that. What you see is what you get. Except when you don't."

Asked about his use of comic book imagery, Lichtenstein would say he found aspects of commercial art forceful, overwhelming. A musician could cover a tune and create a distinct, aesthetically legitimate work, he said, but an artwork that incorporates a cartoon is seen as a cartoon itself. Whether that translated into respect for cartoonists whose work he appropriated and never acknowledged by name is unclear.

Though Lichtenstein's paintings have been offered by cultural critics as a sign of newfound appreciation for comic books, cartoonist Art Spiegelman once quipped: "Lichtenstein did no more or less for comics than Andy Warhol did for soup."

Walking quickly through the show's later galleries, Barta swung back and forth between appreciating Lichtenstein's loving mimicry and wondering why, decades later, source material remains unacknowledged.

He came across as seriously conflicted.

"Maybe 20 years ago, I'd have felt militant," he said. "But I can't deny comics have a place in the culture now. I can't say Lichtenstein is getting the attention. Look at (cartoonist) Daniel Clowes' museum show that just opened in California. But then I'm certainly not speaking for the cartoonists whose work is in this show.

"As an art fan, looking at this, it's hard to believe anyone once thought Lichtenstein's ideas were shocking. But as a comic book fan, when I look at a Lichtenstein version of, say, a John Romita panel, the meaningfulness on Lichtenstein's end has mostly fallen away, and what's remained beautiful is the John Romita itself. Lichtenstein was about changing context, of course. He meant something different than what the original meant. And yet, with or without him, the context has changed again. Now I see Lichtenstein's version of a Joe Kubert explosion and think, 'Someone likes Kubert. But they flattened him in the process.'"

We pointed to a sign on the gallery wall. It read, "No photographs, video or film permitted."

"That's irony," Barta said. "That's hilarious, actually. Except it isn't."

Bringing home the Bacon: The record-breaking pop art masterpieces that fetched tens of millions at auction

The world's economy might be struggling, but not the world's art economy.

These classic pieces of pop art have been fetching record prices after going under the hammer in New York.

Paintings by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon were among those put up for sale at Sotheby's auction house.

Bringing home the Bacon: The record-breaking pop art masterpieces that fetched tens of millions at auction

Andy Warhol's Double Elvis portrait of Elvis Presley is auctioned at Sotheby's in New York

Francis Bacon's 'Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror' fetched £27.7million at the auction at Sotheby's

Worhol's painting of Elvis Presley went for a staggering £23million and a record £27.7million was paid for Lichtenstein's iconic Sleeping Girl.

Bacon's Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror also fetched £27.7million.

A work featuring one ton of handmade porcelain sunflower seeds by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei also made £484,000.

It follows the highest price paid for a piece of contemporary art last week at Christie's in New York - £53.8million for Mark Rothko's 1961 painting Orange, Red, Yellow.

Edvard Munch's The Scream also became the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction when it went for £74.1million last week.
Meanwhile, a recently-discovered sketch by Andy Warhol as a child is to go on display for the first time.
The drawing, which is owned by Devon-based businessman Andy Fields, has been loaned to an art gallery in Bristol.
Mr Fields, 48, said he bought the work of art - which he said is worth an estimated £1.3million - two years ago for just $5 at a garage sale in Las Vegas.
The illustration of American singer Rudy Vallee, which dates from the late 1930s, is thought to have been drawn by the artist when he was aged 10 or 11.
The pencil portrait, which was drawn on a now-tattered piece of paper, ended up in the possession of Edith Smith, Warhol's former carer.
It is full of the pop art motifs synonymous with Warhol, including his signature bright red lips and a typically pop art blocked background.

The Warhol sketch has gone on display at the Royal West of England Academy and is part of a collaboration with Avon and Somerset Police.

Meanwhile, a recently-discovered sketch by Andy Warhol as a child is to go on display for the first time.
The drawing, which is owned by Devon-based businessman Andy Fields, has been loaned to an art gallery in Bristol.
Mr Fields, 48, said he bought the work of art - which he said is worth an estimated £1.3million - two years ago for just $5 at a garage sale in Las Vegas.
The illustration of American singer Rudy Vallee, which dates from the late 1930s, is thought to have been drawn by the artist when he was aged 10 or 11.
The pencil portrait, which was drawn on a now-tattered piece of paper, ended up in the possession of Edith Smith, Warhol's former carer.
It is full of the pop art motifs synonymous with Warhol, including his signature bright red lips and a typically pop art blocked background.
The Warhol sketch has gone on display at the Royal West of England Academy and is part of a collaboration with Avon and Somerset Police.
Rudy Vallee has been loaned to an art gallery in Bristol and is to go on public display for the first time

Lichtenstein Before (and After) the Pop Hits

We tend to think of Roy Lichtenstein in one context: Pop art's master parodist. His transformed cartoon panels—with hyperventilating speech balloons and transcribed sounds like whaam! and varoom!—sent up mid-20th-century commercial visual culture even as they dragged it into the realm of fine art.

Roy Lichtenstein's Laocoön (1988), inspired by classical mythology, will be on view in Chicago.

No museum's contemporary-art collection is complete without one of Lichtenstein's sighing blondes or square-jawed fighter pilots. But that's usually all visitors see.

The Art Institute of Chicago intends to challenge this pigeonholing with an expansive new look at Lichtenstein's vast and varied output over half a century. The major new show—billed as the largest survey of the artist's work ever mounted, and the first since his death in 1997—opens to the public on Wednesday.

Culled from public and private collections in America, Europe and elsewhere, "Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective" brings together more than 160 of the artist's paintings, sculptures and drawings—several never shown before. After its Windy City stop, the show opens Oct. 14 at Washington's National Gallery of Art, next Feb. 21 at London's Tate Modern and July 3, 2013, at Paris's Centre Pompidou. The underlying message: Roy, we hardly knew you.

This look "at the full breadth" of Lichtenstein's work, as Art Institute president and director Douglas Druick puts it, dovetails with continuing demand for Lichtenstein's work at major art auctions. His "Sleeping Girl," a comic-strip painting, sold Thursday at Sotheby's in New York for $44.9 million, a record for the artist.

Such classic Pop works of Lichtenstein, born in 1923, are well represented in the new exhibition. They include 1961's "Look Mickey" (which appropriates Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse), some black-and-white renderings of phone-book ads for washing machines and sneakers, and the famous recomposed cartoons. But so are Lichtenstein's pre-Pop experiments in Cubo-Futurism and the dominant (and ultimately rejected) style of Lichtenstein's youth, abstract expressionism.

In later years, as an entire 80-foot-long gallery in the retrospective demonstrates, the artist spent much of his time in witty dialogue with art history. He produced paintings that borrow from and comment on works from antiquity, traditional Japanese landscapes and American-history painting (such as Emanuel Leutze's "Washington Crossing the Delaware" of 1851). Lichtenstein's "dialogues" were also with such artists as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian and 1980s neo-expressionists like Julian Schnabel.

“The signature comic-book heroines disappeared, but Lichtenstein kept offering fresh takes on art.”

At the same time, the show suggests that much of Lichtenstein's mature work flowed out of the impulse that animated his Pop masterpieces of the 1960s: a desire to critique the present moment in art by offering fresh perspectives on the forgotten, devalued and/or mass-produced art of the past.

"After 1966, when Lichtenstein's heroines and pilots from the comics disappear, people think the Pop phase is over, but that's not true," says the show's co-curator, the Art Institute's James Rondeau. "As his work moves from the cartoon panels to explosions, for example, it's the same kind of parodying of extreme emotional states—the histrionics of war, the melodrama of heartbreak—that the comics are engaged with in a very detached way."

The exhibition closes in Chicago on Sept. 3.

Artist who created 'Love' sculpture renounces other work, gets sued

Kim Kyung-hoon / REUTERS

By Jason McLure, Reuters

An 83-year-old artist known for his block letter "LOVE" design that became a symbol of the anti-war movement in the 1960s is being sued by a Monaco-based art dealer for renouncing the authenticity of sculptures once valued as high as $1 million.

Beginning in 2008, art buyer Joao Tovar paid $481,625 for 10 sculptures of the word PREM, a Sanskrit term meaning "love," from a one-time business partner of renowned pop artist Robert Indiana, Tovar said in the lawsuit filed in superior court in Rockland, Maine.

Tovar says he bought the sculptures from longtime Indiana associate John Gilbert because he believed Indiana had officially licensed their production.

Indiana, who lives on an island off the Maine coast, renounced the sculptures in a 2009 letter to New York dealer Simon Salama-Caro, saying they had been conceived by Gilbert in India and made without his permission. The move led auction house Christie's to remove them from an upcoming sale.

Best known for his 1964 block letter creation featuring an L-O arranged on top of a V-E, Indiana's works are part of the permanent collection of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. The LOVE design, on which the PREM sculptures were based, was featured on an 8-cent U.S. postage stamp issued on Valentine's Day in 1973.

Indiana's denial of his approval "rendered the sculptures worth little more than the materials from which they were made," says the suit, which was filed April 30. Further complicating the matter, Tovar's suit says some of the works he bought have been sold multiple times, most recently for a total of $1.1 million.

Indiana, reached by telephone this week, told Reuters he "absolutely" denied the allegations in the suit but declined further comment.

Tovar says that he relied upon a 2008 certificate of authenticity provided by Gilbert that includes Indiana's signature and the words "To Tovar" at the bottom of the page near Gilbert's signature. Court filings show that Indiana acknowledged that the signature on the document was his but that it was meant as a souvenir for Tovar, rather than acknowledgement that the work was his.

On April 24, Gilbert and Indiana settled a dispute in federal court in New York over the PREM works after a judge found that Gilbert had attempted to "force an artist -- here, defendant Robert Indiana -- to acknowledge creation of a work that the artist did not create and does not like; and then plaintiff could and would use such acknowledgement in selling such works to the public as authentic creations by the artist."

The judge in that case also found that Indiana had made an agreement with Gilbert in 2007 under which Indiana would use Sanskrit characters to design a PREM sculpture that Gilbert could produce and sell. That agreement did not cover the design of a PREM sculpture using the Latin alphabet - like the work purchased by Tovar -- because Indiana felt such a design "looked like a refrigerator," according to court documents.

$44.8 Million, Going Twice at Sotheby’s

A blond bombshell and a twisted male figure — classic images by Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon — tied for top price at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night, bringing $44.8 million each.

It was the second of three consecutive evening contemporary art auctions in New York. And although the Sotheby’s sale was a more sober affair than the one at Christie’s on Tuesday, both showed that collectors from all over the world continue to be drawn to parking their cash in art they can enjoy, particularly when it is universally recognizable.
“Great icons make great prices,” Tobias Meyer, director of Sotheby’s contemporary art department worldwide and the evening’s auctioneer, said after the sale. He added, “The market is more global than ever before,” pointing out that the five bidders for Lichtenstein’s “Sleeping Girl,” from 1964, came from China, North and South America and Europe. The price paid by the winner — an unidentified telephone bidder — was a record for the artist, beating last year’s record of $43.2 million set at Christie’s in November.
While record prices were set for other artists, too, including Cy Twombly, Glenn Ligon and Ai Weiwei, the sale did not eclipse Christie’s Tuesday blockbuster, which set a record for the highest total for a contemporary art sale, $388.5 million. Sotheby’s auction totaled $266.6 million, in the middle of its estimate of $215.6 million to $303.9 million. Of the 57 works on offer, 11 failed to sell.
While the Christie’s auction was steeped in work by Abstract Expressionist painters like Rothko, whose 1961 canvas “Orange, Red, Yellow” sold for nearly $87 million — a record for any contemporary artwork at auction — the Sotheby’s sale had a different emphasis, with several top examples of Pop Art.
Besides the Lichtenstein, there were also a number of Warhols, including “Double Elvis (Ferus Type),” a 1963 image of the singer when he was 28, which was expected to bring $30 million to $50 million. It attracted two bidders, and sold to José Mugrabi, the New York dealer, for $33 million, or $37 million including Sotheby’s commission. (Final prices include the buyer’s commission to Sotheby’s: 25 percent of the first $50,000; 20 percent of the next $50,000 to $1 million and 12 percent of the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.)
Warhol’s “Ten-Foot Flowers,” executed in 1967-68, was painted on a canvas that measured nearly 100 square feet and made for a museum. It was estimated at $9 million to $12 million and sold to a telephone buyer for $9.5 million, or $10.7 million with fees.
When a good Francis Bacon comes up for sale, collectors jump. “Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror,” a 1976 canvas depicting a male figure thought to be the artist’s lover George Dyer, was the other top seller at $44.8 million, over its high estimate of $40 million.
There were five tenacious bidders wanting to bring the painting home and it ended up selling to Charles Moffett, Sotheby’s executive vice president and vice chairman of its worldwide Impressionist, modern and contemporary art department, who was bidding for a mystery client. (Mr. Moffett took the record-breaking winning bid of $119.9 million for Munch’s “The Scream” just a week ago.)
A later and smaller Bacon, “Study for a Portrait” from 1978, was snapped up by Donald L. Bryant, the New York collector, who was sitting in the front row. It had been estimated to bring $4 million to $6 million, and Mr. Bryant paid $3.75 million, or $4.2 million with fees. “I was happy to get it at that price,” he said.
There appears to be an endless appetite for high-end abstract paintings. A classic 1970 blackboard painting by Twombly, “Untitled (New York City),” covered in rolling sweeps of white scrawl, was expected to reach $15 million to $20 million. It sold to Stavaros Merjos, a Los Angeles collector, for $15.5 million, or $17.4 million with fees, just above its low estimate but nevertheless a record for the artist at auction.
Paintings by Gerhard Richter, 80, continue to bring top prices. One of his abstract compositions of fiery reds, from 1992, sold to a phone bidder for $15 million, or $16.8 million with fees, well above its high $10 million estimate.
Between his virtual house arrest over the last year and his retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in the fall, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei continues to fascinate. A version of his famed Sunflower Seeds, this one made of one ton of handmade porcelain sunflower seeds, brought $782,500. It had been expected to sell for $600,000 to $800,000. Last year Sotheby’s in London sold one of an edition of 10 works, each composed of 100,000 seeds, for $559,394, or about $5.60 a seed.
After the sale, Peter Brant, the Connecticut newsprint magnate and collector, summed up the evening when he said, “Where the quality was good it was particularly strong.”