Elton John’s Auction Triumph

Christie’s Auction | Sir Elton John’s Collection
Christie’s Auction of Sir Elton John’s Collection. Source: ARTnews

Goodbye Peachtree Road, Christie’s auction of Elton John’s personal collection, surpassed expectations, reaching $14.4 million over three days. While the art took a backseat to memorabilia and luxury items in driving bids, the overall sale total was robust, providing a temporary reprieve to concerns about the art market’s state.

In the auction, the standout piece was a Banksy triptych titled “Flower Thrower” (2017), acquired directly from the artist by John. It surpassed estimates, selling for $1.55 million. Keith Haring’s 1982 face painting also exceeded expectations, reaching $600,000. Two photographs in a similar estimate range—Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled (Film Still #39)” and Andreas Gursky’s “Dior Homme”—fell short of their estimates.

Other notable pieces, including Julian Schnabel’s “Portrait of Elton,” Helmut Newton’s “Tied Up Torso,” and Deborah Butterfield’s “Dazzle,” sold below their low targets but still found buyers. Herb Ritts’s photograph and a work by Sol LeWitt fell within or below their estimated ranges. A heart-shaped work by Damien Hirst featuring a photo of Elton and David was withdrawn from the sale, as the couple decided to retain it.

The sale featured a paradoxical trend where, despite art comprising the majority of the sale total, bidding wars were predominantly driven by memorabilia and luxury items. Bidders from 34 countries, with 40% of them being first-time participants, competed for iconic pieces such as silver leather platform boots and a Rolex Daytona with a leopard-print dial.

Notable sales included Elton John’s 1990 Bentley Continental Convertible, which fetched $441,000; a Cartier Crash watch that achieved a $220,000 hammer price; a custom diamond and sapphire baguette-encrusted watch that quadrupled its estimate, selling for $140,000; and a Versace “Medusa red” porcelain table service that fetched $44,000, seven times its $6,000 estimate.

The auction follows a trend of successful celebrity auctions, including Freddie Mercury’s collection selling for £12.2m and Barbara Walters’ belongings fetching $5m. The objects were originally housed in John’s East Atlanta condo, sold in 2023 for $7.2 million. The motivation for the property purchase was to facilitate touring convenience. The sale marks Elton John’s third public downsizing, with previous sales in 1988 and 2003.


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