NEW YORK—Phillips, de Pury & Company began its May 13 evening sale with 22 lots from the collection of Internet entrepreneur and CNET Networks founder Halsey Minor. The proceeds of the sale were to go towards repaying a $21.6million loan from ML Private Finance, an affiliate of Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, as ordered by United States District Court for the Southern District of New York last October. Phillips gave up 8 percent points off the buyer’s premium to win the consignment over Christie’s, according to court documents. In all, 19 of the 22 lots sold for a total of $21.05million (estimate: $16.3million/23.8million). A further 26 out of 33 lots from the Minor collection sold for $3million in the day sale.
The star of the evening sale was Richard Prince’s Nurse in Hollywood #4, 2004, which sold to a phone bidder for $6.5million (estimate: $5million/7million), the highest price for a work by Prince since the record £4.2million ($8.5million) paid by fashion designer Valentino Garavani for Overseas Nurse, 2002, at Sotheby’s London in July 2008 (ANL, 7/22/08). It was also the strongest price for Prince since the market—including the artist’s market—succumbed to the recession. Another painting by Prince, The Chatterbox Hotel, 1990, sold for $902,500 (estimate: $800,000/1.2million).
Several works by Ed Ruscha were among the Minor offerings. The top seller was an early, rare bird painting, Angry Because It’s Plaster, Not Milk, 1965, which sold to Deborah McLeod of the Los Angeles branch of Gagosian Gallery for $3.2million (estimate: $2million/3million). Records were set for Mark Grotjahn, whose Untitled (White Butterfly MG01), 2001, sold for $1.4million (estimate: $800.000/1.2million) to a phone bidder, and Walton Ford, whose 118-inch long triptych, Loss of the Lisbon Rhinoceros, 2008, sold for $1million (estimate: $550,000/750,000).
There were also a number of works of design in the collection. A record was set for Marc Newson, when a prototype “Lockheed Lounge,” 1988, sold for $2.1million (estimate: $1million/1.5million), but a prototype of another Newson classic, “Pod of Drawers,” 1987, was bought in on an estimate of $500,000/700,000. Another prototype “Pod” had sold to Larry Gagosian, Newson’s dealer, at Christie’s in May 2007 for $1.05million. Also unsold was an artist’s proof of “Orgone Stretch Lounge,” 1993 (estimate: $400,000/600,000). Another example had sold at Sotheby’s London in October 2008 for $729,000. At the Minor sale, Gagosian stepped in to buy Newson’s “Event Horizon Table,” 1992, from an edition of 10, for $242,500 (estimate: $250,000/350,000).
One of the better performers in the design section was Diego Giacometti’s “Hommage à Böcklin” console table, ca. 1978, which sold to Phillips Russian-art specialist Ivgenia Naiman, against bidding from collector Laurence Graff, for $602,500 (estimate: $150,000/200,000).
The remaining 52 lots of the sale saw only 39 works sell, for a slightly disappointing $16.8million against an estimate of $17.2million/24.6million), bringing the evening’s total to $38.2million, just within the $33.5million/48.5million estimate. A record was set for The Grass Munchers, 2007, a sculpture by Urs Fischer, which sold for $902,500 (estimate: $400,000/600,000), and for Mark Bradford’s All I Need is “One” More Chance, 2002, which sold for $542,500 (estimate: $250,000/350,000).