October art auctions in London

A host of exciting pieces on sale

Modern British & Irish Art

October 16

Christie’s, South Kensington

At the tender age of 19 Michael Ayrton was commissioned by John Gielgud to design the sets and costumes for his production of Macbeth at the Piccadilly Theatre. Shortly after, Ayrton was called up to join the forces and the work had to be finished during brief periods of leave, during which time Ayrton also painted “John Gielgud as Macbeth”, valued between £6,000-£8,000. Other highlights include a watercolour painted by Howard Hodgkin in 1981 with an arresting pallet of vivid greens, yellows and purples, priced at £10,000-£15,000.

Contemporary Art

October 16

Bonhams, New Bond Street

Includes a 1972 Andy Warhol portrait of Yves Saint Laurent inked in pensive blues, priced at £200,000-£300,000. Also on sale are two Damien Hirst “Spin Paintings”, a Banksy stencil on canvas playfully titled “Lenin on Rollerblades” and Gavin Turk’s bronze-painted bin bag, “Tip”, estimated to go for a cool £15,000-£20,000.

Contemporary Art

October 16-17


A vast, international collection of work goes up for sale over two days at Phillips. Of particular note among a host of exciting pieces is “Weiß” (White), a sumptuous oil painting by Gerhard Richter from 1988, estimated to fetch £2.5m-£3.5m. Layers of paint, scrupulously removed and reapplied, run through chromatic scales of grey in an evocative exploration of the relationship between light and darkness.

Decorative Arts from 1860

October 16

Bonhams, Knightsbridge

This vast selection counts several curiosities among its number, including sundry animal figurines, perfect for collectors hoping to augment their skulk of china foxes or parcel of porcelain pigs. The pièce de résistance is a rare stoneware “Model of a Carp” (1896) by the Martin Brothers glazed in mottled tones of green and brown, going for £3,000-£5,000.

Thinking Big

Tracey Emin’s ‘To Meet My Past’ (2002) is up for auction at Christie’s on October 17

October 17

Christie’s, St. James’s

Saatchi Gallery is selling some of the family silver to help continue to fund its education programme and keep access to its gallery free. Rising stars, such as Sterling Ruby and Kader Attia, are on sale alongside familiar names, including the (now not so) Young British Artists Jake and Dinos Chapman and Tracey Emin, whose work here is represented by a – if not the – bed.

Salvador Dalí Auction

October 17

Roseberys, West Norwood

A vast collection of Dalí works, including several etchings, make up 170 lots from £200-£60,000. Of particular note is the complete series of 100 colour wood engravings detailing Dante’s “The Divine Comedy”. These were commissioned by the Italian government in 1957, and then swiftly decommissioned after the Italian people heard their greatest literary work was being entrusted to a Spaniard. Dalí pressed ahead regardless. The result is vivid, bold and wild.

20th-century Italian Art

October 17


Key figures from the Arte Povera movement are represented here, including Mario Merz, Giulio Paolini and Alighiero Boetti. A particular highlight is Boetti’s embroidered tapestry “Kabul – Afghanistan 1984” (at £500,000-£700,000) from the series of embroidered maps of the world, Mappa, for which he is famous.

Contemporary Art

Takashi Murakami’s ‘In The Heart’s Eye, A Universe’ forms part of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art sale, October 17-18

October 17-18


Modern masterpieces include Andreas Gursky’s chromogenic print, “Paris, Montparnasse”, a now iconic snapshot of a modernist apartment block (£1m-£1.5m). Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is represented by several pieces, including “In the Heart’s Eye, A Universe”, painted in his “superflat” style using acrylic and gold leaf. Spanish sculptor Juan Munoz’s “Conversation Piece”, made of life-sized bronze figures, is priced at £2m-£3m.

The Italian Sale

October 18

Christie’s, St. James’s

When Barack Obama moved into the White House in 2009 he selected two oil paintings by the Italian Giorgio Morandi, one of only two non-American artists he chose to hang in the residence. It wasn’t a political statement: Morandi, who survived the second world war, maintained an artistic independence from politics. In fact, he was so shocked by the events of the war that he only produced 10 works in 1944, including the still life here, “Natura morta”. Muted and lyrical, it is a masterclass in form and light. Other highlights include Alberto Burri’s “Rosso Plastica” and “Sacco”.

Postwar & Contemporary Art

October 18-19

Christie’s, St. James’s

Andy Warhol collaborated with Jean-Michel Basquiat during his mentorship of the young artist. The result changed the direction of pop art, fusing Warhol’s stylised designs with Basquiat’s characteristic graffiti style – as in “Cops”, estimated to fetch up to £1.8m. Other highlights are Martin Kippenberger’s “Down with the Bourgeoisie” and Glenn Brown’s “Böcklin’s Tomb”.

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