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With $50M Sale Phillips Widens Niche for Cutting-Edge Art

Phillips, de Pury & Company squeezed two sales into a lengthy three-hour-plus session on Nov. 15, raising $8.2 million in a sell- out benefit auction for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, on the Bowery—and then $42.3 million (estimate: $32.8/$47.2 million) in a Part One sale comprising 81 lots, of which 69, or 86 percent

NEW YORK—Phillips, de Pury & Company squeezed two sales into a lengthy three-hour-plus session on Nov. 15, raising $8.2 million in a sell- out benefit auction for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, on the Bowery—and then $42.3 million (estimate: $32.8/$47.2 million) in a Part One sale comprising 81 lots, of which 69, or 86 percent were sold.

The benefit sale saw some generous donations, led by Jeff Koons’ silkscreen-on-steel Bikini (Dots), 2001-07, which more than doubled estimates to fetch $1.05 million (no buyer’s premium was added); and Richard Prince’s Untitled (Nurse), 2006, which sold for $1.9 million (estimate: $800,000/1.2 million).

The Part One sale was topped by a late Willem de Kooning “ribbon” painting, Untitled XVI, 1982, sent for sale reportedly by hedge fund manager and top collector Steve Cohen, which sold after little competition for $5.9 million (estimate: $5/7 million). There was more action on the Prince “Nurse” front when Registered Nurse, 2002, sold for $4.3 million (estimate: $1.5/2.5 million)—the second-highest price for Prince at auction—and his joke painting Untitled (Protest Painting), 1994, fell to London dealer Jay Jopling for $385,000 (estimate: $150,000/200,000).

Records were set for several artists whose auction market first took off at Phillips. Jules de Balincourt’s Media Information Transmission Center, 2003, earned $265,000 (estimate: $100,000/150,000); and Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Orange Butterfly MO2G), 2002, went for $937,000 ($300,000/400,000) to the Richard Gray Gallery. Prices for Steven Parrino, the subject of a recent retrospective exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, which now represents his estate, have leaped, reaching $657,000 at this sale for Blue Idiot, 1986 (estimate: $400,000/600,000). And Rudolf Stingel, subject of a recent solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, saw his record move up to $1.9 million with a winning bid from private dealer Philippe Ségalot for an untitled 2000 work in Styrofoam. (estimate: $500,000/700,000).

Other significant records were set for Carroll Dunham’s Once I Land on Mars, 1999, which took $433,000 (estimate: $150,000/250,000); and for Wim Delvoye’s stained glass St. Stephanus I, 1990, which was acquired for $319,000 (estimate: $100,000/150,000).

Among the sellers was British gallerist-collector Charles Saatchi. Four of his works that sold included: The Girl Who Had Everything, by Cecily Brown, which went to the Gasogsian Gallery that represents her for $1.1 million (estimate: $600,000/800,000); Wilhelm Sasnal’s Untitled, 2000, which sold for $157,000 (estimate: $80,000/120,000); Michael Raedecker’s The Getaway, 1997, which earned $169,000 (estimate: $120,000/180,000); and Kai Althoff’s Untitled, 2001, which realized $109,000 (estimate: $100,000/150,000). However works by Daniel Richter (estimate: $350,000/450,000) and Franz Ackermann (estimate: $300,000/400,000), also from Saatchi’s collection, went unsold.

As was seen in the recent London sales, Phillips has now entered the guarantee market and in this sale guaranteed 25 works, of which 22 sold, including seven of the top-ten-selling lots. The major casualties among the guaranteed lots was Andy Warhol’s Detail of the Last Supper, 1985-86 (estimate: $1/1.5 million), and an orange and blue Mao, 1974 (estimate: $700,000/900,000).

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