The average value of Chris Levine's artwork has experienced a 3% growth over the last 5 years, with the typical price paid now reaching £7,590. With his original lightbox works fetching up to six figures at auction, it is unsurprising that Chris Levine’s prints and artwork on the secondary market do rather well.
The highest price ever paid for a Chris Levine painting was achieved in April 2017, when Lightness Of Being (2004) sold for a staggering £187,500 at Sotheby’s auction house in London.
His portraits have successfully maintained their value, and Chris Levine has only benefitted from his success at the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘The Queen, Art and Image’ show. This article explores the most expensive Chris Levine pieces sold at auction to date.
A photographic ‘outtake’ and part of a larger-scale holographic depiction of Queen Elizabeth II, Lightness Of Being (2004) realised £187,500 at auction in April 2017, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of £50,000-£70,000. This sale, which took place at Sotheby’s auction house in London, made the work the most expensive piece by UK-based Chris Levine to-date.
Working in an interdisciplinary fashion, Levine is well-known for harnessing the many representational powers of light. In this piece, Levine portrays the Queen – an iconic ‘image’ in her own right – with her eyes closed in a moment of pause and reflection.
Sitting at the top two of Levine’s record sales is yet another majestic yet unexpected portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The portrait is an outtake from a project Levine began working on in 2004, when the Jersey Heritage Trust commissioned the artist to create the first holographic portrait of the Queen to mark the Island of Jersey’s 800 years of allegiance to the Crown. Working in the drawing room at Buckingham Palace, Levine encouraged Her Majesty to rest in between takes. The moment was captured in what is by now perhaps the most famous representation of the reigning monarch, Lightness of Being (2008), and was turned into a holographic work in 2008.
In 2022, Levine donated the artwork to Sotheby’s London to benefit the Platinum Jubilee Pageant. The work went under the hammer on 29 June 2022 and sold for £151,200, making it the second most expensive Levine work to be sold on the market.
The third-most expensive work by UK-based light-based artist Chris Levine, Lightness Of Being (Pink) is one of a number to depict Queen Elizabeth II. An ‘outtake’ from a larger-scale hologram-based work first completed by Levine in 2004, in September 2018 the piece realised £150,000 at Sotheby’s auction house, London. A silkscreen print complete with hand applied Swarovski crystals, the work smashed the upper-bound of its pre-sale estimate by £50,000 and depicts the monarch with her eyes closed; a vision of pause and tranquillity. The work reflects Levine’s keen interest in Tibetan Buddhism and meditation.
Another work from UK-based artist Chris Levine’s ‘Lightness Of Being’ series, in April 2021 Lightness Of Being (2008) realised an astonishing £119,700 at Sotheby’s in London.
The fourth most-expensive work by the artist, Lightness Of Being (2008) is a now-iconic image that depicts the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II with her eyes closed. An intimate image that offers up a rare view of the Queen as she bears a restful expression, the piece started life as a photographic ‘outtake’, captured when Levine was preparing to create a full-scale hologram of Her Majesty in 2004.
In September 2013, Christie’s oversaw the sale of She’s Light (Laser 3), a work by UK-based artist Chris Levine. The work, a lenticular print on lightbox, realised £115,875, landing near the upper bound of its pre-sale estimate.
Depicting the model Kate Moss – once a personal friend of famed artist Lucian Freud – She’s Light (Laser 3) recalls the 1960s pin-up paintings of American Pop Artist Tom Wesselmann. In this work, Moss’s image is given a modern twist: a variety of green traces not unlike those that can be drawn with a laser pen serve to imbue it with a tangible sense of the light with which it is illuminated.
This 2018 installation work by UK-based artist Chris Levine is his 5th-most-expensive to date. Going up for auction at Sotheby’s London in September of 2019, the piece realised a strong £81,250, a figure that falls towards the upper-bound of its pre-sale estimate of £70,000-£100,000.
A three-dimensional work quite unlike Levine’s portraiture-based holograms, it is tinted with a striking UV dye. Despite this circular aluminium dish bearing few similarities to Levine’s figurative pieces, the dye’s bright pink hue speaks to the artist’s obsession with light and recalls the background of his 2nd-most-expensive work, Lightness Of Being (Pink) (2015).
In February 2018, the auction of She’s Light (Laser 3) (2013), held at Sotheby’s in London, saw the artwork realise an incredibly strong £75,000. Recreating an iconic image of English supermodel Kate Moss, the piece harnesses the representational powers of light, lasers, and holography.
A standout example of UK-based Chris Levine’s œuvre, it was created using lenticular printing techniques. Commenting on the piece, Levine once said, ‘Given all the images that have ever been made of her, I needed to take it beyond beauty and somewhere deeper. Her true beauty is within and that’s what I hope is projected in the form of light.’
Another example of UK-based artist Chris Levine’s lenticular lightbox works, in September 2018 She’s Light (Pure) realised £75,000 at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Like other works in the She’s Light series, such as She’s Light (Laser 3), it depicts the English model and icon of the 2000s, Kate Moss. Joining the ranks of Queen Elizabeth II and musician Grace Jones, two prominent subjects of Levine’s, Moss is depicted here with closed eyes, set against a bright white background. In a light-based expression of the muse’s inner beauty, the red of Moss’s lips puncture the piece’s otherwise monochrome surface.
In September 2019, a 2018 version of UK-based artist Chris Levine’s iconic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, Lightness Of Being, realised £75,000 at Sotheby’s auction house in London. With a pre-sale estimate of £70,000-£100,000, the work failed to reach the £150,000 realised by its 2008 namesake, a gelatin silver print of the same iconic image of the Queen, eyes closed in a moment of pause and reflection. A unique archival inkjet print, Lightness Of Being (2018) is adorned with hand-applied Swarovski crystals, which contribute towards the piece’s tangible sense of regal luxury.
In September 2020, a 2012 version of Lightness Of Being — an iconic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by UK-based artist Chris Levine — realised £69,300 (over double its pre-sale estimate) at Sotheby’s auction house in London. A lenticular print on an LED lightbox, the work was executed in 2012 and initially released in an edition of 10. With its origins in a photoshoot Levine conducted with the Queen in 2004, the work depicts the British Monarch as she rests her eyes between shots.
Most of the photographs made that day constituted a sequence of stereo images, taken to construct a hologram; this ‘outtake’ image, however, serendipitously captures a moment of pause and meditation, which references Levine’s own interest in Buddhism.
The Sotheby’s ‘Made in Britain’ sale took place in March 2020, just prior to the United Kingdom’s first COVID lockdown – a period which saw online art sales boom. During the sale, Lightness Of Being, 2013 – a unique, multi-coloured silkscreen print by UK-based artist Chris Levine – realised £60,000. Landing right on the upper limit of its pre-sale estimate, the work is a 2013 version of a now iconic image.
Depicting acting British monarch Queen Elizabeth II with her eyes closed, the image has its origins in 2004, when Levine was commissioned to create the first ever hologram of Her Majesty.