The first day David Bowie's massive art collection went to auction, it fetched a total of $30.3 million, nearly tripling pre-auction estimates. The auction featured 47 of the more in-demand pieces of art hitting the block, including paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frank Auerbach and Damien Hirst.
"[David Bowie] used his art to understand his place in the world," curator Beth Greenacre told Rolling Stone. "He was an amazing historian. He was always looking backward to understand the present – and even propheised about the future, I think."
Basquiat's "Air Power" sold for approximately $8.8 million; its pre-auction estimate was $3.3 million; the singer initially purchased the 1984 painting in 1995 for $120,000. Bowie previously appeared in the 1996 film Basquiat in the role of Andy Warhol.
In all, 12 artists' works established new auction-high for their respective artists thanks to Bowie's collection, including Auerbach, whose 1965 canvas "Head of Gerda Boehm" sold for $4.7 million, a record for the German-born British painter. Bowie first purchased the painting at auction in 1995 for $87,000. Another piece that tripled pre-auction estimates was "Beautiful, hallo, space boy painting," a collaboration between Hirst and Bowie. The circle canvas with a seven-foot diameter sold for $975,000.
"Bowie was a true collector," art advisor Christina Shearman told the New York Times. "His acquisitions were not commercially motivated; he cared about the art, not the market. His was a deeply personal, eclectic collection, reflecting his British roots and his real passion for art."
Sotheby's of London's auction continues Friday with a focus on over 100 Memphis Group furniture and design objects from Bowie's collection.