Cy Twombly picture fetches $70m – today’s art world?at New York Sotheby’s sale

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Cy Twombly (1928-2011)
Untitled (New York City)
signed and dated ‘1970 Cy Twombly’ (on the reverse)
oil based house paint and wax crayon on canvas
57 x 70in. (144.7 x 177.8cm)
Executed in 1970

Special Notice

On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot. This indicates both in cases where Christie’s holds the financial interest on its own, and in cases where Christie’s has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold successfully and may incur a loss if the sale is not successful.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. This VAT is not shown separately on the invoice. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie’s immediately after the auction.

Provenance

Giorgio Franchetti, Rome.
Annina Nosei Gallery, New York.
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Ira Young, Los Angeles.
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Private Collection.
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s New York, 9 May 2012, lot 29.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Pre-Lot Text

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Literature

H. Bastian, Cy Twombly: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Volume III 1966-1971, Munich 1994, p. 224, no. 107 (illustrated in colour, p. 225).

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LOS ANGELES — It’s become something of an art-market trope to say that for the price of a single painting by a blue-chip artist you could pay for an entire building by a well-known architect.

Now the philanthropist Audrey Irmas has set into motion a chain of events that could illustrate exactly that, pledging $30 million from the sale of an early Cy Twombly “blackboard” painting at Sotheby’s to help the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple construct a new building by Rem Koolhaas right next door.

Ms. Irmas, 86, bought the nearly eight-foot-wide Twombly painting “Untitled, 1968 (New York City)” at Sotheby’s from the collection of Charles Saatchi 25 years ago, for $3.85 million. Now the auction house expects it to bring “in excess of $60 million” when it goes up for sale on Nov. 11. A smaller, 1970 “blackboard” painting, the series in which he drew looping lines in white wax crayon on a dark gray painted surface, brought $69.6 million at a Christie’s auction last year. The Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which already has a West Los Angeles campus named after Ms. Irmas and her late husband Sydney, has earmarked a site next to its 1929 historic Byzantine-revival synagogue in Koreatown for the new Koolhaas events space. Called the Audrey Irmas Pavilion, it is expected to cost $60 million.

“I hope this building will provide a gathering place for cultural life and social events in a very diverse neighborhood,” said Ms. Irmas, a longtime temple member and lifetime trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art here.TWOMBLY2-blog480

Audrey Irmas and Rabbi Steven Z. Leder outside the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.Credit Rick Ueda

Of her Twombly, she added, “I love that painting so much, but I’ve had it for 25 years and I’m always worried when other people come into the living room that they may back up into it. It’s very exciting to know that I can use it to provide a better life for the community.”

Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple said the design “is far from complete at this point,” but he noted that “it’s going to house one of the most stunning banquet halls in the entire city — over 500 people around tables with a dance floor and stage. ”

A Sotheby’s spokesperson said the Twombly is being sold without a minimum price guaranteed to Ms. Irmas. But Rabbi Leder said the $30 million is a signed pledge that will be fulfilled “when the Cy Twombly sells or within one year of her death, whichever occurs first — and we all hope it will be the former.”

For now, Rabbi Leder gives a projected completion date of 2019 for the Koolhaas building. “We are very serious,” he said, “about giving people a transcendent experience inside and outside the sanctuary.”

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