At the beginning of this week, Christie’s kicked off the international art fair Frieze Week and it will be one that we will remember for a long time to come. The auction house has sold the art collection of the British businessman Jeremy Lancaster, who died in April, and that yielded a nice 28 million dollars.
A work by Philip Guston made a rare entrance with the sale of Jeremey Lancaster's collection which contained two of his later works in his cartoon-like figurative style. Language 1 was painted by Guston in 1979 and was auctioned for 4.7 million dollars. A smaller, and almost unknown, Guston work got a new home for 1.4 million dollars. In the early 1940s, Lancaster bought his first work of art. He had just been the director of Wolseley, a heating and sanitation company, for five years. It was a painting by none other than Patrick Caulfield, which he acquired through Waddington Galleries. In the next ten years he loved to buy from London galleries. His collection consists mainly of British art, including works by Howard Hodgkin and Bridget Riley. Leslie Waddington eventually brought him more and more in contact with classical international works by artists such as Philip Guston, Josef Albers, Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti. Lancaster continued to expand his collection until he bought his fifth Hodgkin in 2006, which also became his last purchase. Hodgkin was a beloved British artist with poetic and colourful compositions. Although he never really broke through, five Hodgkins were hammered during the auction and four of them were effectively sold.
His collection consists mainly of British art, including works by Howard Hodgkin and Bridget Riley.
Victorian art specialist Martin Beisley was at the auction with an Asian client bidding on a Hodgkin orange-framed Bombay Sunset (1972-3), but was surpassed at the last minute by a telephone bidder who bought it for $899,200. Although that was not a record, it was a poster paint on cardboard, Tea Party in America (1948), of the painter for a record amount of $307,000. The triple of the original estimate. In the end Beisley won a Hodgkin work for his client, Mrs C (1964), for the price of 276,000 million dollars.
Lancaster's collection also contained some forgotten names such as Lisa Milroy, a Canadian figurative artist from the mid-eighties. Although it was estimated that her works would go under the hammer for not much more than $6,000, they still reached an astonishing amount of $43,000. The 53 lots of the British businessman were estimated at 16.8 to 24 million dollars. 48 of them were sold for a mere $28.8 million. The auction was clearly a great success. The auction also helped to put the more contemporary end of modern British art on the map.
Copyright images: Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd.