Lady Gaga Boosts $392 Million Fashion, Contemporary-Art Sales

Lady Gaga was among the buyers
during a week of contemporary art and fashion auctions in London
that raised more than 250 million pounds ($392 million).

The U.S. singer was represented in the room at Christie’s
International’s June 27 charity sale of fashion items belonging
to the model and designer Daphne Guinness. The auction house
confirmed that Gaga was a buyer, though it wouldn’t specify
which, or how many, items she bought.

The 102-lot evening sale was held to establish a foundation
in memory of Guinness’s friend, Isabella Blow, the fashion
editor credited with discovering Alexander McQueen. The event
raised 476,800 pounds, more than four times the estimate.

“Having taken an auction away from Christie’s, I decided
to give them another in its place,” Guinness said at the
presale preview.

Blow died on May 6, 2007. Her wardrobe, including the
clothes McQueen created for his college graduation, had been
scheduled to be auctioned by Christie’s in September 2010.
Guinness bought her friend’s collection before the sale with the
long-term intention of putting it on public display.

An Alexander McQueen ivory silk tulle empire-line gown was
among the items Guinness offered in its place. Dating from the
fall/winter of 2008-2009, it sold for 85,250 pounds, a record
for the designer at auction. Lady Gaga’s management hasn’t
commented on reports that she bought the gown.

The top price of the evening was 133,250 pounds given by a
telephone bidder for Mario Testino photograph of Guinness
published in the March 2008 edition of U.K. Vogue magazine.

Basquiat Painting

The night after Christie’s sale, Phillips de Pury Co.
offered a 1981 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, a friend of
Blow’s when she worked at Vogue in New York during the early

Estimated at 6 million pounds to 8 million pounds, the
acrylic and oilstick “Irony of Negro Policeman” was the most
highly-valued work in Phillips’s 28-lot auction of contemporary
artworks. It fell to a telephone bidder for 8.2 million pounds
with fees, having been sold privately earlier in the year for
about $8 million, dealers said.

A 1984 acrylic-on-canvas of Olympic rings and heads painted
by Basquiat and Andy Warhol fetched a further 6.8 million pounds
with fees.

Another version of this collaboration, prompted by the 23rd
Olympiad in Los Angeles, is currently on show at Gagosian in
Davies Street in the Mayfair district of London.

Selling Rate

Phillips’s sale raised 23.4 million pounds with fees
against an estimate of 15.1 million pounds to 21.2 million
pounds, based on hammer prices. The evening’s selling rate of 86
percent was similar to those at the equivalent contemporary-art
auctions held by Sotheby’s and Christie’s on June 26 and June 27

Christie’s 132.8 million-pound offering was the most
valuable contemporary-art auction held in Europe, surpassing the
108.8 million pounds raised by Sotheby’s from a mixed-owner sale
combined with the Durkheim Collection in London in June 2011.

“The trophies are more expensive than ever,” the London-
based art adviser Wendy Goldsmith said in an interview. “Works
in the range of $200,000 to $600,000 are more difficult. People
like bankers don’t have the same levels of disposable income,
and the feel-good factor isn’t there any more.”

Sotheby’s (BID) (BID) and Christie’s day sales of contemporary works on
June 27 and June 28 raised 13.8 million pounds and 15.5 million
pounds respectively. Sotheby’s found buyers for 69 percent of
its lots. The corresponding Part II London auctions in June
2008, at the height of the last art market boom, took 26.8
million pounds and 22.4 million pounds.

“Fatigue is another factor,” Goldsmith said. “We’ve just
had art fairs in New York, Hong Kong and Basel. We’ve never had
quite so much of a run-up to these auctions.”

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the
arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed
are his own.)

Muse highlights include Robert Heller on rock music, Jason
Harper on cars and Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

To contact the writer on the story:
Scott Reyburn in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Manuela Hoelterhoff at

Jun 30th, 2012 | Posted in Fashion
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