NEW YORK — Arshile Gorky’s masterpiece “Charred Beloved I” (1946) was sold on November 9 at Christie’s auction house in New York for $23.4 million. The painting was being sold by David Geffen, who had owned it for 30 years; it had a great provenance, including having been owned by publishing magnate S. I. Newhouse.
Gorky’s previous record of $14 million was set in November 2018 by the 1944 painting “Good Afternoon, Mrs. Lincoln,” which was sold as part of the collection of Barney Ebsworth.
Gorky’s “Charred Beloved I” emerged as a phoenix-like response to a devastating studio fire in January 1946. This tragic event consumed not only 20 of Gorky’s paintings, but also his cherished books and drawings. Undeterred, Gorky embarked on what would become known as his “ballroom series” on the 17th floor at 1200 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Among the masterpieces born from this period were the four canvases, including the iconic “Charred Beloved I.”
The Gorky was part of a Christie’s auction of 20th-century art which pulled in nearly $641 million and set artist records for Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Mitchell and Gorky.