LAST night Kate Moss made her Christie’s debut. In 59 lots her image – rendered mostly through photography, but also oil, plaster and ink – was auctioned at King
Street, in Mayfair. An early estimate of the sale’s proceeds (although not all the items reached their estimate) rings in at more than £1.5 million.
Three years in the works, this sale represents a large part of German art expert Gert Elfering’s extraordinary collection of Kate Moss-inspired work.
Perhaps inevitably the sale catalogue reads as a who’s who of fashion photography, name-checking everyone from Bruce Weber
to Mert & Marcus, Juergen Teller to Irving Penn. Although for one piece, an etching entitled The Story of Eye, Kate ditched the mantle of muse and became creator, with some help from her friends the Chapman brothers: their collaboration sold for
Overall, the highest price bid was £110,000 for a life-size sculpture of Kate, A Model, by Allen Jones. Another impressive performer was a Mario Testino portrait for British Vogue’s October 2008 fashion story,
“Hope and Glory”, in which the model, wearing a Union Jack jacket, leans against a green wall and lifts her skirt to reveal her bronzed limbs and a pair of black opaque knickers. Its estimate was £10,000 to £15,000 – it sold for £26,000.
The auction drew a crowd of chattering snap-happy bystanders, although neither Kate nor Gert were present. Bidding action mainly took place off the floor and on the
telephones, as buyers from Iceland, Russia and China competed for over an hour for a piece of Britain’s highest-paid model. Kate’s long-time agent, Sarah Doukas, became the
enthusiastic new owner of two pieces – which she celebrated with a jubilant “yes”.
Alexander Montague-Sparey, Christie’s head of photographs and the sale’s curator, believes the evening was hugely significant –
not just for Kate Moss (although clearly her draw continues to be potent) but for contemporary art. “We are seeing fashion photographers recognised and celebrated as artists,” he says. “Before now many of the photographers in this sale, for instance David Sims and Mert & Marcus, had never sold their works at auction. A new auction market within fashion photography has been created.” Collectors get set, prices are only going to rise.