Phillips small but tidy evening sale of 20th Century and Contemporary Art at its sleek London headquarters in Berkeley Square delivered £36.8/$47.7 million.
Usually, Phillips is squeezed by its much larger competitors Christie’s and Sotheby’s on the auction schedule circuit, forcing the boutique house to piggy-back on the same day as its giant rivals but this time, had the evening all to its own.
The sale only took 45 minutes.
Three of the 28 lots offered failed to sell for a svelte buy-in rate by lot of 11 percent.
The tally, including fees, edged close to the high side of pre-sale expectations pegged at £27.35 to £38.8 million.
Estimates do not include the buyer’s premium.
Phillips’ total hammer price before fees hit £31.27 million, certainly a healthy though petite result.
The tally trailed far behind last year’s £97.8/$135.1 million total for the 48 lots that sold and led by Pablo Picasso’s “La Dormeuse” from 1932 that fetched £41.8/$57.8 million.
Tonight, five works sold for over one million pounds and seven made over a million dollars.
Two artist records were set.
Seven lots were backed by financial guarantees, with six third party guarantees and one house guarantee.
All prices reported include the hammer price for each lot sold plus the buyer’s premium calculated at 25 percent of the hammer price up to and including £300,000, 20 percent on that portion over £180,000 and up to and including £3 million and 13.5 percent for anything beyond that.
The brief evening got off to a rocking start with the auction debut of New York artist Tschabalala Self ‘s oil, acrylic, flashe, fabric and dry leaf on canvas/linen composition “Lilith” from 2015 that made an estimate crushing £125,000/$163,875 (est. £40-60,000).
Another feminist themed work, Rose Wylie’s mural scaled, 72 by 136 ½ inch oil on canvas diptych, “Queen of Sheba with Gold Lump” from 2012 realized a record £175,000/$229,425 (est. £80,000-120,000).
Another woman artist, Cecily Brown, sparked the longest bidding battle of the sale with the figurative expressionist and even wildly Baroque composition “Armed and Fearless,” executed in oil on linen from 2014 that strove to £1,775,000/$2,300,805 (est. £600-800,000).
A brief round of applause followed the final bid.
Tomoo Gokita’s fashion-centric and decidedly Surreal composition of a pattern-faced couple, “Sham Marriage” from 2013 in acrylic, gouache and charcoal on linen, sold to another anonymous telephone bidder for £350,000/$458,850 (est. £220-280,000).
More familiar evening sale names included Kaws’ rambunctious and cartoon-like “Moving the Mirror” from 2010 and executed in acrylic on canvas, sold to another telephone bidder for £805,000/$1,055,355 (est. £700,000-1 million) and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s sloppy looking amalgam of slashing brushstrokes and a skeletal figure from circa 1984, “Untitled (Velveeta),” comprised of acrylic, oilstick, resin, paper and canvas collage on canvas and bearing zero exhibition history, sold to the telephone for £1,887,000/$2,473,857 (est. £1.2-1.5 million).
The Kaws last sold at Christie’s New York in May 22017 for $235,500 and the Basquiat was sold from the estate of the artist, so at least its authenticity is assured.
Telephone bidders dominated the evening action as David Hammons’ haunting composition, “Untitled (Body Print)” from 1974 and executed Yves Klein like in grease and dry pigment on paper, sold for £555,000/$727,605 (est. £300-400,000).
An editioned Roy Lichtenstein work, “Girl in Mirror” from the Pop Art prime year of 1964 and cast in porcelain enamel on steel from an edition of eight plus two artist’s proofs, went for £4,800,000/$6,292,00 (est. £4.5-6.5 million).
It was (luckily) backed by a third party guarantee and last sold at Christie’s New York in November 2010 for $4,898,500.
Another third-party secured lot, Martin Kippenberger’s text driven self-portrait, “Ohne Titel (Meine Lugen sind ehrliche)” from 1992, featuring the artist as bearded and nude, crouched by a dented garbage can, sold to another telephone bidder for £3,815,000/$5 million (est. £3.5-4.5 million).
It last sold at Sotheby’s London in October 2014 for £2,322,500.
The evening’s top lot went to Gerhard Richter’s high-flying “Dusenjaer” (Jet) from 1963, an oil on canvas scaled at 50 ¾ by 77 7/8 inches. It attracted a posse of four telephone bidders and sold for £15,532,500/$20,363,108 (est. £10-15 million).
It last appeared at Phillips New York in November 2016 as the cover lot and reportedly sold for $25,565,000.
Apparently the buyer reneged on the purchase and Phillips wound up as the owner.
Auctioneer Henry Highley cautioned the salesroom as the painting appeared that only specially registered bidders could compete for the painting, no doubt a cautionary measure.
Prior to the 2016 crash, “Jet” had sold at Christie’s New York in November 2007 from the esteemed collection of Chicagoans Susan and Lewis Manilow for $11.2 million.
One of the few works qualifying as “20th Century” (as opposed to Contemporary), Giorgio Morandi’s obsessive, table top still life of vessels, “Natura Morta” from circa 1952 and deaccessioned from the Kasama Nichido Museum of Art in Kasama Japan, brought £975,000/$1,278,225 (est. £600-800,000).
The last lot of the evening, Corey Arcangel’s mural scaled abstraction with a title revealing all, “Photoshop C5: 72 X 110 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, Square pixels, default gradient “Blue, Red, Yellow” mouse down, y=10150 x=3350, mouse up y=16300 x =19900,” all in an artist’s frame, sold to an otherwise anonymous woman seated in the salesroom for £300,000/$393,300 (est. £100-150,000).
That wraps up the evening season in London, with all things considered, a reassuringly healthy though barely buoyant state of the global art market.