Auctions Museums Market United Kingdom

Charles Saatchi to auction big works, dispensing with estimates and reserves

UK collector teams up with Christie's London to sell around 50 sculptures after exhibition during Frieze week

Sell-off will fund Saatchi Gallery's education work and free entry

The British collector Charles Saatchi plans to sell around 50 large-scale works in a novel way. They are due to be auctioned by Christie's London on 17 October after a week-long exhibition in a cavernous former postal sorting station in central London (12-18 October).

Timed to coincide with Frieze week, "Thinking Big" comes with a twist: prospective buyers will find there are no estimates or reserves for the sculptures and installations being auctioned. These include works by artists such as Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sterling Ruby, Berlinde De Bruyckere and David Altmejd among others, according to a Christie's statement.

A spokeswoman for the Saatchi Gallery, London, says that proceeds from the sale will go towards maintaining free entry to the institution in Chelsea and funding its education work. School groups are not charged and most of the gallery's education workshops are free.

In 2011, Charles Saatchi proposed turning the Saatchi Gallery into a "Museum of Contemporary Art for London", offering around 200 works as a gift to the nation, including pieces by Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry and the Chapman brothers. But talks with the government, which was taken by surprise by the offer, have come to nothing. Sticking points included the fact that the Saatchi Gallery only leases the former Duke of York's barracks rather than owning it. Moreover, the collector also wanted the proposed institution to be able to sell some works from the gift to buy others. The titles of individual works offered was never disclosed. It is unclear whether any of the works to be included in "Thinking Big" formed part of the proposed gift.

Saatchi has often traded works that he has collected, selling works privately and through auction houses. The most famous of his disposals is Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living ,1991. The shark-in-formaldehyde installation was commissioned by Saatchi. Prominently featured in exhibitions, including the international tour of “Sensation”, he sold the shark in 2004 to the hedge-fund tycoon Steve Cohen for a reported $8.3m. Saatchi has also donated works to public bodies, such as three gifts to Arts Council England between 1999 and 2003.

Francis Outred, Christie's head of post-war and contemporary art, Europe, says in a statement that the auction house has been working with the Saatchi Gallery "for about a year" on the "Thinking Big" exhibition and sale.

Meanwhile, in June, Saatchi and his wife, the journalist and TV chef Nigella Lawson, separated after a widely reported argument in public. They were divorced this week.

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13 Sep 13
15:30 CET


Thank you! This is very interesting and useful information.

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