Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Flag by Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, Flag

Price Realized
Price includes buyer's premium

Estimate$10,000,000 - $15,000,000

Sale Information: Sale 2406 Works from the Collection of Michael Crichton 11 - 12 May 2010 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Lot Description Jasper Johns (b. 1930) Flag signed 'Johns' (on the underside); signed again and dated 'J. Johns 1960-'66' (on the reverse) encaustic and printed paper collage on paper laid down on canvas 17½ x 26¾ in. (44.5 x 67.9 cm.) Painted in 1960-1966. Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, 1973.

That word 'acquired' can mean so many different things.  Last year this signature Jasper Johns Flag from the collection of the late Michael Crichton sold for an astonishing price.  Back in 1973 when he obtained it, Crichton may already have been working on his book about Jasper Johns, and if so he had some personal contact with the artist on at least a journalistic basis.  It's also possible that Crichton might have sought the artist out based on an appreciation of his work and only later decided to write the book.  Crichton already had written his bestseller The Andromeda Strain,  so he presumably had some money by this time in his life.  It's not clear to me, then, whether Crichton acquired this painting by purchase or whether he received it as an outright gift, although I think this very unlikely for what must have been recognized as a very important work even back in 1973.  Perhaps he just got it at a good price, or persuaded the artist to part with it at its market value based on their friendship.  Whatever may have transpired, he obtained a fabulous and important work of pop art from a series that was soon to become nearly impossible to acquire.  Regardless of the cost, Crichton was, it seems, well-rewarded by Johns for his coming efforts on the artist's behalf.  Johns, meanwhile, has achieved an exceptionally high price for a work by a living artist.

Christie's in the Saleroom: 

Jasper Johns Flag Sells

for $28 Million

Video added April 24, 2012


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