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Sotheby’s, Phillips Reveal Top Lots for May Postwar and Contemporary Sales in New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982.COURTESY SOTHEBY'S

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982.


With the May auctions in New York just weeks away, it’s a little last-minute to be rolling out the biggest lots of the season. It takes time to print those catalogues. But here were are, in the waning days of April, and two houses have just today announced what could be the top-selling works of art auctioned in their respective postwar and contemporary evening sales.

Today, Sotheby’s revealed that it had secured the consignment of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982), which the house has guaranteed with its own money for a reported $65 million. That price reflects the scarcity and quality of such a work—it has not been seen in public since 1984, when it was bought at auction by the current owners for $19,000. Prior to that, it was purchased off the wall at “Fast,” a small group exhibition at SoHo space Alexander Milliken Gallery, which was run out of 98 Prince Street in the 1980s. The show was up in the middle of the summer doldrums in 1982.

If the work does pay off for Sotheby’s, it will break the record for a Basquiat at auction, set just last year when Christie’s sold a Basquiat, consigned by Adam Lindemann, to Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa for $57.3 million.

Peter Doig, Rosedale (1991).COURTESY PHILLIPS

Peter Doig, Rosedale, 1991.


The provenance of the untitled Basquiat at Sotheby’s is also of note. According to an item in the Baer Faxt, the “distinguished private collection” mentioned by Sotheby’s is apparently the collection of Emily and Jerry Spiegel. That estate has already popped up in this season’s auction news, as works from the late couple’s collection have been guaranteed for $100 million—but not by Sotheby’s, by its rival house, Christie’s. Apparently, the works from the Spiegel collection that were snatched up by Christie’s—a suite of 26 of them will open the May evening sale—are managed by the late couple’s daughter Pamela Sanders, while the Basquiat at Sotheby’s is being consigned by the couple’s other daughter, Lise Wilks, and her husband, Jeffrey Wilks. This auction season‚ it’s a family affair!

And then over at Phillips, its top lot could also break an artist record. The house announced today that it would offer Peter Doig’s Rosedale (1991) at an estimate of $25 million. If it does sell at that price, there’s a chance it could eclipse the previous mark for Doig, which was set at Christie’s in New York in May 2015, when Swamped (1990) sold for $25.9 million to Taiwanese collector Pierre Chen.

It’s the second year in a row that Phillips has secured a choice eight-figure consignment to anchor its May sale in New York. Last year, Gerhard Richter’s Dϋsenjäger (1953), previously owned by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, went for $25.5 million to a bidder on the phone with specialist Kevie Yang.

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