Gagosian sets a new record for Albert Oehlen, and it all happened online

Gagosian sets a new record for Albert Oehlen, and it all happened online
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Gagosian set a new record recently for a sale of a work by the German painter Albert Oehlen. The untitled abstract painting from 1988 sold after three hours of its unveiling in Gagosian’s online viewing room ahead of Art Basel Hong Kong. While Gagosian did not disclose the price it sold for, the price tag on the work had been set at $6 million, far beyond what the industry has seen for an online sale.

Sam Orlofsky, director at Gagosian and the person behind the online viewing room since its inception, sent out a tweet about the sale boasting that they had “set a 7 figure world record for an artist within three hours of the artwork being revealed, and the purchaser never seeing it in person.”

Gagosian did confirm however that the price for the work exceeded the artist’s auction record of $4.7 million, set at a Christie’s sale in London last year for the large figurative work titled Stier mit loch (Bull with hole) (1986).

The online viewing room is a relatively new initiative by the mega-gallery that started last year and hosts works around major fairs the gallery participates in. This online exhibition however only contained one artwork as opposed to the viewing room typically featuring 10-12 works simultaneously.  

Gagosian decided to invest in this format to combat buyer burn-out created by an oversaturated art-market calendar. It acts as an efficient portal for collectors to participate in Art Basel, or any other fair, remotely. Results have been extremely positive, even before the Oehlen sale. The gallery has said that it placed five of the ten works offered in the pilot online viewing room which included a Jeff Elrod painting for $150,000 to an Albert Oehlen abstraction for $1.1 million. The second iteration of the viewing room brought in even more sales as it launched during Frieze London last year. This all perfectly set the stage for the grand Oehlen online sale of 2019.