Not every pundit was impressed by the Renaissance painting: “Even making allowances for its extremely poor state of preservation, it is a curiously unimpressive composition and it is hard to believe that Leonardo himself was responsible for anything so dull,” wrote Charles Hope, an emeritus professor at the Warburg Institute at the University of London (artnews).
But the rest - all created after World War II - had solid sales, a sign that the art market is in a robust health. Apparently the global art market is again following the stock markets which climbed to all-time high. History shows that stock markets & art markets walk side by side. Art is not only bought by collectors, who love it and want to own it, art is also purchased by investors & speculators who hope to sell it later for a higher price. These people consider art as an asset, comparable to stocks, bonds & real estate - and as long as they become more wealthy, they spend more for art.
Phillips (altogether more than $ 150 million sales) sold my personal favorite, Peter Doig`s "Red House" (1995–96) for $21.1 million. I envy that buyer. Franz Kline`s "Sayer" sold for $9,9 million and someone took Richard Prince`s "Mystery Nurse" home for $3,25 million.
The auction houses looked like huge museums and together they over-trumped any major museum exhibition of contemporary art I know including New York´s MoMa, Los Angeles`"Broad" and Chicago`s Art Institute. Plus which, admission was free, and taking pictures was permitted! Priceless.