LONDON—Phillips de Pury & Company rounded off the week with a small, but solid, sale in which 23 out of 25 lots were sold, mostly below estimates. The £5.7 million ($8.97 million) total, with premium, just inched by the low £5.2 million ($8.2 million) estimate, without premium, for the sale. The result mostly mirrored last February’s performance. “We wanted to keep it controllable,” said Michael McGinnis, the head of contemporary art at Phillips. “We turned away a lot of material where the expectations and risks were too high.”
The top lot was a slashed, white Lucio Fontana titled Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1960, that had once belonged to Andy Warhol. The piece sold on a phone bid, manned by Phillips’s Moscow representative Svetlana Marich, for £1 million ($1.7 million), against an estimate of £1 million/1.5 million. The only other pre-1980s work was a small Warhol, Mao, 1974, which sold through Phillips’s Geneva representative Katie Kennedy for £457,250 ($717,880), against an estimate of £300,000/500,000.
Of the few 1980s works on offer, a small, wave painting by Raymond Pettibon titled The View from Beyond the Breakers, 1988–94, made a record for an oil painting selling for £157,250 ($246,800), on an estimate of £80,000/120,000. (Pettibon’s large, wave paintings on paper have made much more.)
Another record was set when Walead Beshty’s FedEx Kraft Box, 2005, sold for £58,850 ($92,400), compared with an estimate of £15,000/20,000. The previous record for Beshty was for another FedEx Box sold by Phillips in London in October 2011.
But Phillips’s proudest achievement was outgunning Sotheby’s on the price of a Cindy Sherman “clown” print. After one had sold at Sotheby’s day sale earlier for £361,000 ($566,770), a record for a single “clown” print, Phillips sold the “clown” print Untitled #410, 2003, for £433,250 ($680,200), compared with an estimate of £200,000/300,000.
The main unsold lot was Damien Hirst’s large painted bronze, Sensation, 2003, which represents a cross section of human skin. Shown last winter at Art Basel/Miami Beach’s outdoor exhibition at the Bass Museum of Art, it received no bids with an estimate of £350,000/450,000.