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Lehman Brothers Art Auction Nets $12 Million, Sets New Record

By Della Hasselle | September 27, 2010 1:32pm

By Della Hasselle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — The Lehman Brothers fine arts auction raked in over $12 million Saturday, setting new records in auction sales of the contemporary art world.

Out of a 142-piece collection including works from Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and Takashi Murakami, only 32 pieces remained unsold after Sotheby’s held the auction at its Upper East Side location. More than half of the items sold exceeded their estimated price, officials said.

A Julie Mehretu piece set a record Saturday when it sold for the top price of $1,022,500, over three times the price any Mehretu piece has previously sold at the venue.

"The strong demand for Pop, Abstraction, Minimalism, Photography and Conceptual works reflects the strength of the collection and the health of the market," senior Sotheby’s Contemporary art specialist Gabriela Palmieri said in a statement.

"The number of new auction records established today was particularly exciting—recognition of rising stars and sought-after artists is a wonderful validation of Neuberger Berman’s collection."

Gerard Richter’s photographic piece "Betty" also broke the price ceiling, fetching three times its highest estimate at $458,000.

The auction held other surprises as well. Among the unsold works was the much-anticipated Damien Hirst piece, "We’ve Got Style," estimated to go between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

The auction, which was estimated to bring in between $8 million and $12 million, comes two years after the financial company collapsed, costing investors over $500 billion.

The collection first opened its doors to eager art collectors last Sunday, some of whom weren’t aware that the collection belonged to the men behind world’s largest corporate bankruptcy in US history.

"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 lead auctioneer Tobias Meyer said.

Another Nueberger-Lehman Corporate Collection auction is slated for Nov. 7.