Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sale Hits New Heights

Anchored by a major and massive scaled Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, Phillips scored a company record $224,906,950 on Wednesday evening.

The tally with fees exceeded pre-sale expectations for the 36 lots offered of $169-208 million.

All of the 36 lots sold, making it a white glove affair for the Russian owned auction house.

The more revealing hammer total was $191,770,000.

A baker’s dozen of works were backed by third party guarantees, including the top lot Basquiat and that accounted for a low-estimate value of $113.5 million.

Three artist records were set.

The record result swamped last June’s equivalent sale evening sale of $118,205,000.

Anna Weyant, Buffet II, on the reverse, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 1/4 in. (121.9 x 153 cm)

The evening started of with a quintet of women artists, with Anna Weyant’s Dutch Golden Age styled “Buffet II’ from 2021, a still life complete with pleated tablecloth, hammered at $580,000 /$730,800 with fees (est. $100-150,000).

Robin F. Williams, Nude Waiting It Out, , oil and acrylic on canvas, 64 1/8 x 44 1/8 in. (162.8 x 112 cm)

Robin F. Williams’ interpretation of a 1970’s shampoo advertisement, “Nude Waiting it Out” from 2017 and last seen at her P.P.O.W. solo that year realized a record $260,000/$327,600 with fees (est. $150-200,000).

María Berrío, Burrow of the Yellow, mixed media collage on canvas, 60 x 72 in. (152.4 x 182.9 cm)

The figurative parade continued with María Berrío’s large-scaled mixed media collage composition featuring a bevy of four women, cats and rabbits, “Burrow of the Yellow” from 2013 that sold to another anonymous telephone bidder for $800,000/$998,000 with fees (est. $400-600,00).

Hilary Pecis, Adrianne’s Bookshelf, acrylic on canvas, 54 1/4 x 44 in. (137.7 x 111.8 cm)

Hilary Pecis’s bibliophile intense reprise of an artist friend’s library, “Adrianne’s Bookshelf” from 2020, executed in acrylic on canvas, hammered at $500,000 /$630,000 with fees (est. $400-600,000).

Lisa Yuskavage, Northview (Impressionist Jacket), oil on linen, 70 1/8 x 40 1/2 in. (178.1 x 102.9 cm)

In the bigger secondary market league Lisa Yuskavage’s boldly bawdy and lavish composition of a bare breasted woman standing in a pink hued boudoir, “Northview (Impressionist Jacket)” from 2000 realized $890,000/$1,106,900 with fees (est. $700,000-1 million).

It last sold at Phillips de Pury in May 2011 for $1,082,500, making tonight’s result look like a wash.

Mark Rothko, Untitled, oil on paper mounted on Masonite, 38 x 24 7/8 in. (96.5 x 63.2 cm)

Price points jumped with Mark Rothko’s “Untitled” from 1959, a major oil on paper mounted on canvas, a veritable chromatic firestorm, blazing in red, yellow and orange hues that hit $7 million/$8,435,000 with fees (est. $6-8 million).

It last sold at Christie’s New York in November 1996 for $270,000.

The catalogue description mentioned it was being considered for the forthcoming Rothko catalogue raisonne for works on paper being prepared by the National Gallery of Art.

Yves Klein, Monochrome bleu sans titre (IKB 267), pigment and synthetic resin on linen mounted on board, 30 5/8 x 21 7/8 in. (77.8 x 55.6 cm), Executed in 1957, this work is registered in the Yves Klein Archives under the number IKB 267 and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by, Rotraut Klein Moquay.

Two works by Yves Klein distinguished some of the evening action as
“Monochrome bleu sans titre (IKB 267)” from 1957, executed in pigment and synthetic resin on linen mounted on board, went for $2,250,000/$2,752,500 with fees (est. $2-3 million) and the more dramatic “Relief Èponge bleu sans titre (RE 49)” from 1963 floated upwards to $17.1 million /$19,999,500 with fees (est. $14-18 million).

The former sold at Christie’s London in June 1993 for £110,000 and the larger sponge relief, backed by a third party guarantee, last sold with fees at Sotheby’s London in June 2010 for £6,201,250/$9,342,609, literally doubling that result.

Shara Hughes, The Not Dark Dark Spots, oil and dye on canvas, 68 x 60 in. (172.7 x 152.4 cm)

Back on the women’s artist front and a welcomed gender balancing act at auction to what used to be a strict white male club, Shara Hughes “The Not Dark Dark Spots” from 2017, a kind of psychedelic mindscape, hit a whopping $1.3 million/$1,603,000 with fees (est. $300-500,000.)

The consignor acquired the painting at the Lower East Side Rachel Uffner Gallery in 2017.

Helen Frankenthaler, Blue Dance, 49 x 62 3/8 in. (124.5 x 158.4 cm)

In a more historic mode, Helen Frankenthaler’s soak and stain technique AB-EX composition, “Blue Dance” from 1963 went for $1.8 million/$2,208,000 with fees (est. $1.8-2.5 million).

The online catalogue has a reproduction of the sales receipt from 1987 typed out by the artist’s secretary, noting payment of $130,000 made by tonight’s seller.

The painting attracted four bidders, illustrating the depth of the market and so it seemed with many of the evening’s offerings.

Yayoi Kusama, Untitled (Nets), oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 45 7/8 in. (130.8 x 116.5 cm) Painted in 1959, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.

A bidding battle greeted Yayoi Kusama’s all over white, “Untitled (Nets)” from 1959, driving the hammer price to a record $8.8 million/$10,496,000 with fees (est. 5-7 million.)

Zero Group artist Gunther Uecker originally acquired the painting in a trade with Kusama before moving on to other owners.

Alexander Calder, 39=50, 47 x 102 x 5 in. (119.4 x 259.1 x 12.7 cm), Executed in 1959, this work is registered in the archives of the Calder Foundation, New York, under application number A03753.

Another of the sale’s eight figure lots, Alexander Calder’s “39=50” hanging mobile from 1959 and comprised of 39 cascading disks creating a painted metal snow flurry, hammered at $13.3 million /$15,648,500 with fees (est. $10.5-14.5 million).

Mega-collector and Christie’s owner Francois Pinault bought the hanging mobile at Christie’s London in June 1993 for £485,500/$712,503. It since passed along to other collectors before landing here.

Pablo Picasso, Figures et plante, oil on panel, 7 1/4 x 9 3/8 in. (18.4 x 23.8 cm), Painted on April 4, 1932.

Showing its chops for bringing in Modern works and not just the newbies, Pablo Picasso’s third party backed “Figures et plante” from April 1932 and featuring the artist’s muse and mistress Marie-Therese Walter, went for a torrid $8.6 million/$10,267,500 (Est. $4-6 million).

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, acrylic and spray paint on canvas
94 1/4 x 197 1/4 in., (239.4 x 501 cm), Executed in 1982.

But the evening’s star performer was the ferocious and fiery, horned devil figure centered in the 94 by 197 inch Jean-Michel Basquiat “Untitled” from 1982. Bidding opened at $62 million and quickly raced to hammer at $75 million/$85 million with fees (unpublished estimate in the region of $70 million), with the big trophy going to an Asian buyer, according to Phillips.  It also ranks as the highest price ever achieved for a work at Phillips.

The painting came to market with a third party guarantee though it didn’t appear to need it

It was consigned by Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese online fashion merchant and space traveler, who bought the painting at Christie’s New York in May 2016 for a then record $57,285,000.

That consigner back then was Amalia Dyan and Adam Lindemann who bought the painting at Sotheby’s London in June 2004 for £2,469,600/$4,490,182.

It sure looks like the price keeps flying higher but still some distance behind the artist’s record of $110,487,504 set by “Untitled” from 1982 at Sotheby’s New York in May 2017 that Maezawa also bought as well as “In the Case” from 1983 that fetched $93,105,000 at Christie’s New York last May.

Maezawa intends to use the net proceeds to fund an eponymous museum in Japan, according to Phillips.

Roy Lichtenstein, Nude, oil and Magna on canvas, 82 1/2 x 45 in. (209.6 x 114.3 cm)
Painted in 1997, this work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.

Other standout highlights included Roy Lichtenstein’s late and statuesque “Nude” from 1997, large scaled at 82 ½ by 45 inches that made $8.6 million/$10,267,000 with fees. (est. $8-12 million).

Andy Warhol, The Star (Greta Garbo as Mata Hari), signed “Andy Warhol” on the overlap, acrylic, and silkscreen ink on canvas, 60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm), Executed in 1981.

Of the four Andy Warhols offered, “The Star (Greta Garbo as Mata Hari)” from 1981, scaled at 60 by 60 inches from the artist’s Myths’ series made $8 million/$9,580,000 with fees (est. $7-10 million) and “Flowers” from 1964 at 48 by 47 7/8 inches went for $7.8 million/$9,351,000 with fees (est. 8-12 million).

“Flowers” last sold at Phillips New York in May 2014 for $10,245,000, turning a small loss for the seller but nothing like the fearsome drubbing the Dow took on Wednesday.

David Wojnarowicz, Fuck You Faggot Fucker,  collage, acrylic and four black-and-white photographs on Masonite, 48 1/4 x 48 1/8 in. (122.6 x 122.2 cm), Executed in 1984.

In one of the tougher entries, at least by subject matter and political vibrancy, David Wojnarowicz’s “Fuck You faggot Fucked” from 1984, with the title based on some homophobic screed, went for $750,000/$937,500 with fees (est. $800,000-1.2 million.)

The seller acquired the painting at the East Village Civilian Warfare gallery that same year of 1984. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Visual Aids non-profit organization.

Reggie Burrows Hodges, Intersection of Color: Suite, acrylic, oil and pastel on canvas, 48 x 60 in. (121.9 x 152.4 cm), Executed in 2019.

Back to the emerging star front, Maine artist Reggie Burrows Hodges’
Sky box spectator scene, “Intersection of Color: Suite” from 2019 hit a record $580,000/$730,800 (est. $200-300,000).

The action resumes at Sotheby’s double-header sale on Thursday.

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