pursuits

John McEnroe Sells Manson-Inspired Artwork for $10.4 Million

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Mark Bradford’s "Helter Skelter I" Source: Phillips

John McEnroe sold a 34-foot-wide painting inspired by serial killer Charles Manson for 7.5 million pounds ($10.4 million) at a Phillips auction in London Thursday.

John Mcenroe
Photographer: Julian Finney/Getty Images

The retired tennis pro acquired “Helter Skelter I” in 2007. It’s the creation of Mark Bradford, a sought-after black artist from Los Angeles who represented the U.S. last year at the Venice Biennial, one of the most prestigious international art exhibitions.

McEnroe, 59, whose Hall-of-Fame career included seven Grand Slam singles titles and epic on-court tirades, is currently a tennis analyst for ESPN. He’s also a frequent presence on the art circuit, appearing at fairs, auctions and openings.

Bradford, born in 1961, is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2009. His annual sales at auction peaked at $17.4 million in 2015, and dropped to $6.9 million last year, according to Artprice.com. The final price for the work sold Thursday was 8.7 million pounds, which includes commission, surpassing the high estimate of 6 million pounds.

The painting helped give Phillips, a smaller rival of Sotheby’s and Christie’s, its biggest single-auction total in the firm’s history. The 97.8 million pounds it brought in put Phillips close to the 109.3 million pounds that Sotheby’s rang up during a similar auction on Wednesday. The sale of Picasso’s 1932 “La Dormeuse” for 41.9 million pounds, more than twice the high-end estimate, was Phillips’s biggest triumph.

(Updates with Picasso in last paragraph.)
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