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New Record for Nauman Work on Paper Set at Heritage Auction Galleries

Human Nature by Bruce Nauman, 1983

Human Nature by Bruce Nauman, 1983

Heritage’s $3.48 million Modern & Contemporary Art Auction vastly exceeds estimates

The Collection of a Fortune 500 Company led the way to a $3.48 million afternoon at Heritage Auction Galleries’ June 9 Signature® Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art Auction with Bruce Nauman’s stunning Human Nature, 1983, bringing $776,750 – the highest price yet paid for a work on paper by the artist – to take top honors. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.

“The pre-auction buzz on a lot of the Fortune 500 pieces was significant,” said Ed Beardsley, Managing Director of the Fine Arts Department at Heritage, “and the action on the floor, on the phones and on the Internet during the sale reflected that excitement. The result was stellar prices on great pieces, which translated into an excellent overall auction.”

Including the Nauman, the Collection of a Fortune 500 Company accounted for the top five lots in the auction, and seven of the top 10 lots total, with Helen Frankenthaler’s stormy acrylic on canvas, Quattrocento, 1984, coming in as the second highest lot in the auction when it brought $346,550 against a pre-auction estimate of $150,000+, while Richard Diebenkorn’s etching Green, 1986, widely regarded as one of the artist’s finest etchings, performed solidly with a $262,900 total, exceeding its $200,000+ pre-auction expectations.

Two of the great surprises of the day came in the form of Edward Ruscha’s bold Golden Words, 1985, which realized $334,600 against a $70,000+ pre-auction estimate – one of the highest recent prices paid for a work on paper by the artist – while the bidding on Jack Goldstein’s acrylic on canvas Untitled, 1983 exploded much the same as the subject matter of the painting itself, finishing at almost seven times the pre-auction estimate of $30,000+ to realize $203,150, and establishing a new world record at auction for the painter.

“Collectors all over the world were drawn to this auction,” said Frank Hettig, Director of Modern & Contemporary Fine and Decorative Arts at Heritage, “and subsequently pieces of it are on their way to happy new owners overseas. We took great pains to market each piece based on who the artist was and where each work fit into their overall oeuvre. The result was strong prices across the board.”

The late Charles Martignette has certainly made his presence felt in the Illustration Art market in the last year, and in the Heritage Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Auction he showed that his collecting genius transcended boundaries as Mel Ramos’ Pop Art masterpiece Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, 1963, brought $179,500 and further burnished the legendary reputation of Martignette’s superb eye for great art.

More offerings from the Collection of a Fortune 500 Company followed Ramos in the final price hierarchy of the event, as Mario Merz’s surreal oil, acrylic and charcoal 8 Case, 1981-1982, exceeded pre-auction estimates to finish at $101,575 and Ed Paschke’s 1986 Pazzo realized $59,750 against a pre-auction estimate of $25,000+, just shy of a world record price for the artist.

Two paintings from Edouard-Léon Cortès finished out the day’s top offerings, both of which came to auction courtesy of The Property of Dorothy & Sidney Factor, sold to benefit charity. The delightful and evocative Parisian street scene Porte St. Martin, circa 1935, brought $56,763, while another equally stunning street scene, La Coupole, Montparnasse, circa 1935, brought $41,825.

“The auction of these paintings marks the fourth sale of pieces from the Factor family collection sold to benefit charity,” said Beardsley. “Property sold in Jewelry, Silver, Decorative Arts, and Fine Art has raised more than $500,000 for the family’s chosen institutions and organizations.”

Heritage Auctions, founded by Steve Ivy and Jim Halperin, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit

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