Lehman art fetches $12m at auction

2010-09-26 08:38

New York - Fine art once owned by Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose collapse kick-started the US economic recession, fetched over $12m Saturday at a Sotheby's auction.

The proceeds will go toward repaying the more than $600bn owed to creditors of Lehman Brothers, which declared bankruptcy in 2008, helping to trigger collapse across global financial markets.

Some 83% of the 142 lots were sold for a total of $12.28m, exceeding estimates.

The sale set 17 records for artists, including Ethiopian Julie Mehretu, whose iconic painting "Untitled 1" sold for $1 022 500, a new record for the artist and well over the high estimate of $600 000 - $800 000.

Mark Grotjahn's "Untitled" fetched $782 500 and three works by Gerhard Richter also sold at higher than expected prices, including "Abstraktes Bild," which fetched $506 500.

Yet a piece by Britain's Damien Hirst that had been expected to take in about a million dollars failed to sell.

The collection was acquired by Lehman Brothers in 2003 and includes works by other famous contemporary artists like Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Richard Prince and Yoshitomo Nara.

International buyers at the auction included institutions such as the Museum Art Center Buenos Aires (MACBA) and several successful online purchasers.

"While the Lehman name certainly attracted a great deal of attention, the people who bid today participated because they knew it was good art," Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art Tobias Meyer said in a statement.

Much of the artwork that went under the hammer had been purchased by asset manager Neuberger Berman.

Another Sotheby's sale will be held in London on Wednesday at Christie's, featuring works by Lucian Freud and Gary Hume.