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Hits and Misses at Phillips Auction

Phillips de Pury & Company opened the series with an evening sale on June 27 which they held in the ballroom of Claridge’s, one of London’s smartest hotels, which is more centrally placed—in Mayfair, close to Sotheby’s—than their premises in Howick Place, Victoria. Phillips were rewarded with a slightly higher turnout than usual, though the

LONDON—Phillips de Pury & Company opened the series with an evening sale on June 27 which they held in the ballroom of Claridge’s, one of London’s smartest hotels, which is more centrally placed—in Mayfair, close to Sotheby’s—than their premises in Howick Place, Victoria. Phillips were rewarded with a slightly higher turnout than usual, though the sale results were mixed.

On the upside, the sale doubled last June’s total bringing £11.2 million ($16.9 million) on an estimate of £10 million/14.4 million, and selling 27 out of 31 lots.

Records were set for Ugo Rondinone, whose enamel and aluminium tree, Get up girl a sun is running the world, 2006, sold to a phone buyer for £541,250 ($866,000), compared with an estimate of £200,000/300,000, and for Beatriz Milhazes, whose patterned O Moderno, 2002, sold to another phone bidder for £713,250 ($1.1 million), compared with an estimate of £650,000/750,000.

Going to buyers in the room were: Glenn Ligon’s Stranger in the Village #8, 1997, sold to London collector, investment baker Amir Shariat, for £253,250 ($405,200), compared with an estimate of £150,000/250,000; Ilya Kabakov’s A Solemn Painting, 2005, sold to Asher Edelman for £241,250 ($386,000), compared with an estimate of £200,000/300,000; Cecily Brown’s I Will Not Paint Any More Boring Leaves (2), 2004, for £529,250 ($846,800) compared with an estimate of £350,000/450,000 to private dealer, David Nisinson; and Damien Hirst’s butterfly painting, Confession, 2008, sold on a bid of £580,000 ($928,000), or £690,850 ($1.1 million), with premium, against an estimate of £600,000/800,000 to Jose Mugrabi.

Closely watched was rising U.S. star, Jacob Kassay’s silver painting, Untitled, 2009, which sold to a phone buyer for £145,250 ($232,400), compared with an estimate of £50,000/70,000.

But Phillips had also guaranteed a number of lots which sold on bids below the estimates, making any profit for the company seem unlikely. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Self Portrait, 1985, was estimated at £2 million/3 million and sold on a hammer bid of £1.8 million ($2.9 million), or £2.06 million ($4.7 million), with premium. Mark Tansey’s Library of Babylon, 1994, estimated at £1.2 million/1.8 million, sold on a bid of £1 million ($1.6 million), or £1.16 million ($1.9 million), with premium. The record Milhazes sold on a bid of £610,000 ($976,000), which was below estimate, and Urs Fischer’s Thank you F*** You, 2007, sold on a bid of £550,000 ($880,000), compared with an estimate of £600,000/800,000. With premium the price was £657,250 ($1 million).

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