New World Record for Marcos Grigorian at Bonhams New York
Single-owner sale offered works from across Grigorian's career directly from the artist's estate

New York – Horizontal and Vertical Earthwork set a new world record for Armenian-Iranian artist Marcos Grigorian (1925-2007), selling to a prominent UAE foundation for $315,375, against an estimate of $70,000 - 100,000, at Bonhams' 46-lot sale Marcos Grigorian Unearthed: Works from the Artist's Estate, which ran from 10 - 23 June on Offering works directly from the artist's estate, the sale made a total of US$1,057,935, and sold 71.74% by lot and 100% by value.

The pioneering artist Grigorian expanded his practice far beyond the borders of his native Armenia and Iran, establishing himself in New York as one of the most progressive, innovative, and provocative artists of his generation.

Noor Soussi, Bonhams Head of Sale, commented: "It is incredibly exciting to have achieved a new world record for an artist of such significance as Marcos Grigorian - a central figure in his country's modern art movement. His work never fails to draw in collectors, but this single-owner sale was especially attractive, offering a wide selection of works from the artist's estate which demonstrated the extent of Grigorian's range and the development of his style."

A total of 18 works in the sale – including Summer of 1989, which sold for $164,175 against an estimate of $60,000 - 80,000 – were acquired by Mohammed Afkhami Foundation.

Mohammed Afkhami commented: "Marcos was a great artist and I intend to push the idea of a museum show for his works at some point in the future, as he deserves it not only for his contribution as an artist, but as a pioneer in Iranian art philanthropy – with his early support for Iranian artists in Iran's inaugural Venice Biennale pavilion in 1958, and other activities that helped promote Iranian art to both an international and domestic audience."

Marcos Grigorian was born in Kropotkin, to an Armenian family from Kars, who had fled the city when it was captured by Turkey in 1920. They later moved to Iran in 1930 and Grigorian first began showing his work in The Apadana gallery in Tehran in 1949. In 1950 he began studying at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome. Upon his return to Tehran in 1954, he opened the Galerie Esthétique and in 1958, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, he organized the first Tehran Biennial. Marcos' early works, including the Auschwitz murals (1959), presented an expressive visual language of anxiety and despair. Grigorian spent much of the 1960s living in the US and taught at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts in Minnesota, where he established Universal Galleries.

In 1978 at the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Nelson Rockefeller admired Marcos' earthworks and later acquired four of his works. He met with Marcos again in New York, purchasing another of his earthworks, which he donated the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1980 Grigorian established Arshile Gorky Gallery, named after the Armenian abstract expressionist painter who committed suicide in the US in 1948. There he exhibited the works of Iranian and Armenian artists for several years. Following the death of his daughter in 1986, Grigorian's style shifted, and he immersed himself in passion for Armenian folk art and rug weaving.

Other highlights of the sale included:

Summer of 1989. Sold for $164,175, against an estimate of $60,000 - 80,000.

Tree of Life. Sold for $101,175, against an estimate of $15,000 - 18,000.

Untitled. Sold for $75,975, against an estimate of $40,000 - 60,000.

Sangak. Sold for $57,075, against an estimate of $25,000 - 35,000.

Eclipse I. Sold for $57,075, against an estimate of $20,000 - 30,000.

Nude. Sold for $35,655, against an estimate of $8,000 - 12,000.

Eclipse II. Sold for $28,050, against an estimate of $20,000 - 30,000.

Specchio Roto (Broken Mirror). Sold for $22,950, against an estimate of $7,000 - 10,000.

Self-Portrait. Sold for $20,400, against an estimate of $10,000 - 15,000.

Bonhams are most grateful for the co-operation of the Grigorian Estate and their representative Laura Borghi of Borghi Fine Art in the realization of this auction.


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