Yves Klein’s invisible art sold for pure gold in 1958, and the receipt will sell for half-a-million Euros, according to Sotheby’s.
In 1958, French artist Yves Klein set a empty cabinet in an empty room in a Paris art gallery and thousands of people paid to come and see the nothing he had so carefully arranged. The show, such as it was, was a wild success. He followed up on it by documenting a series of non-existent, purely conceptual spaces, and selling them for pure gold, for which Klein would write them a formal receipt.
The story gets weirder – each buyer could choose to keep their receipt, a tangible proof they had paid twenty ounces of gold for nothing. Or they could burn the receipt in a ritual directed by Klein, after which he would drop half of the gold he was paid for it into the Seine, which flowed right outside his apartment.
Due to the spectacle of this, few of the receipts for Klein’s concepts survive. But one purchaser, antiques dealer Jacques Kugel kept his. It has been displayed for decades in art institutions in London and Paris, and is now being sold by its current owner, art adviser Loïc Malle.
Malle is putting over 100 items from his private collection up for auction with Sotheby’s, including the receipt.
Made to look like a banker’s check, the receipt reads “Received twenty grams of pure gold against a Zone of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility.” It is signed by Yves Klein, and dated December 7th, 1959.
In a small box, the receipt also reads “The transgressor exposes himself to the total annihilation of his own sensibility.”
Sotheby’s expects the receipt, and the ‘attached’ invisible artwork which is included in the sale, to bring in at least $500,000 Euro. Calling it the ancestor of NFTs, they are making a point of accepting payments for this auction in cryptocurrency.
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