Ed Ruscha’s ‘Radio’ Hammers for Record $52.5-M at Christie’s

Ed Ruscha’s ‘Radio’ Hammers for Record $52.5-M at Christie’s

Christie’s efforts to showcase Edward Ruscha’s Hurting the Word Radio #2 paid off at Wednesday evening’s auction of post-war and contemporary art when it achieved an auction record price for the artist of nearly $52.5-M, with fees, sailing through the $30-M upper end of a pre-sale estimate. 

The hammer came down at $46-M to an anonymous bidder on the phone with Marc Porter, Christie’s Chairman, Americas, after more than 3 mins of bidding largely among 3 collectors on the phone with the auction house’s Top specialists and an individual in the packed salesroom. 

The iconic pop text painting, which achieved the highest result for a painting so far during New York’s fall auctions had been in the collection of Los Angeles journalist and collector Joan Quinn and her late husband Jack since they bought it from the artist in the early 1970s.

A Ruscha work last broke a record 5 years ago at Christie’s in New York when Smash, 1963, sold for $30.4-M, 2X its low estimate. 

We were bold on what we did, we heard a lot of criticism,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman of post-war and contemporary art said at a press conference after the sale. With a nod to the fact the New York fall sales taking place this week did not feature some of the super big-ticket items of the last few seasons, he added, “I wanted to prove that we [could] sell a painting over $50-M this season—I’m pleased with the result.” 

Overall, the contemporary sale raised $325.3-M, including fees, with 89% of the lots sold. The total hammer price of the evening was 105% of the pre-sale low estimate, Guillame Cerutti said at the press conference, indicating the measure as a sign of a “solid, positive sale.”

Have a terrific weekend

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