How Much Oil Would Top 5 Paintings Sold at Christie’s Buy?

May 14, 2008

Christie’s Postwar and Contemporary Art Auctions closed tonight. And yes, Lucian Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” now officially holds the auction record for a living artist. Estimated to go for between $25-$35 million, the painting went for $33,641,000. As a followup to my post a couple days ago, here’s a tally of the top five paintings sold. And for consistency’s sake, quick calculations for how much oil each might buy. (Just in case we run into a gas shortage, we really ought to know which ones we should NOT burn for fuel.)

Here goes:

1. Mark Rothko, “No. 15”, 1952 / price $50,441,000

This could buy 400,325 barrels of oil OR 8.0 million gallons of gasoline. This represents 2% of U.S. daily gasoline consumption OR what we consume in 29 minutes.

2. Lucian Freud, “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping”, 1995 / price $33,641,000

This could buy 266,992 barrels of oil OR 5.3 million galloons of gasoline. This represents 1.33% of U.S. daily gasoline consumption OR what we consume in 19 minutes.

3. Andy Warhol, “Double Marlon”, 1966 / price $32,521,000

This could buy 258,103 barrels of oil OR 5.2 million gallons of gasoline. This represents 1.29% U.S. daily gas consumption OR what we consume in 19 minutes.

4. Francis Bacon, “Three Studies for Self-Portrait“, 1976 / price $28,041,000

This could buy 222,548 barrels of oil OR 4.4 million gallons of gasoline. This represents 1.11% of U.S. daily gas consumption OR what we consume in 16 minutes.

5. Gerhard Richter, “Abstraktes Bild“, 1987 / price $14,601,000

This could buy 115,881 barrels of oil OR 2.3 million gallons of gasoline. This represents 0.58% of U.S. daily gas consumption OR what we consume in 8 minutes.

TOGETHER, these five paintings sold for $159,245,000. Just for the record, that would buy 1.3 million barrels of oil, which could be converted into 25.3 million gallons of gasoline. This buys the equivalent of 6.32% of our entire country’s consumption in one day. Or, a total of 91 minutes of power for the U.S., from FIVE paintings. Wow. Talk about concentration of wealth.

Tomorrow: the Sotheby’s auction results.


How Much Oil Would Freud’s Painting Buy?

May 11, 2008

Speaking of oil money, I was wondering how much oil Lucian Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” (pictured in yesterday’s post) might buy in today’s economy. The painting is expected to sell for a record $25-35 million at the PostWar and Contemporary Art auction at Christie’s NY this Tuesday.

Let’s take the high end of $35 million. At $126 per barrel of crude oil, the Freud would buy 277,778 barrels. Now, according to How Stuff Works, a barrel of oil can yield up to 20 gallons of gasoline. So, the Freud could buy slightly more than 5.55 million gallons of gasoline. In the U.S., about 20 million barrels of oil or 400 million gallons of gasoline is consumed each day. So, we could say that the Freud would take care of only 1.4% of gasoline consumed in one day. Another way to say this is: the Freud would take care of the gasoline America consumes in barely 20 minutes.