AO Auction Results: Phillips de Pury & Company Contemporary Art Evening Sale, London Monday, June 29, 2009 – Comes Just Short of Low Estimate

June 30th, 2009

Ed Ruscha’s ‘That Was Then This Is Now’ sold for £713,250, falling between estimates of £600,000-800,000, via Phillips de Pury

Phillips de Pury’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale realized £5.1 million last night, missing its low estimate of £5.4 million.  With a much smaller and deeply discounted offering compared to last year’s sale, Phillips sold 30 out of 39 lots for a 77% sold-by-lot rate, beating last year’s rate of 66%.  However, this year’s totals represent a 79% decrease in value as last year’s sale brought in £24.5 million.  Conservative estimates helped, with many lots selling above their estimates.  The highest selling lot was Ed Ruscha’s fittingly titled ‘That Was Then This Is Now,’ going for £713,250, including buyer’s premium, putting it in the middle of estimates of £600,000-800,000.

Contemporary Art Evening Sale [Phillips de Pury]
Ruscha Canvas Leads a London Sale [NY Times]
Phillips Contemporary: That Was Then, This Is Now [Artinfo]
Phillips Sells 77% of Contemporary Art in London on Discounts [Bloomberg]

Richard Prince’s ‘Spiritual America IV’ failed to meet its reserve, with estimates of £400,000-600,000, via Phillips de Pury

The only spectacular failure was an artist’s proof of Richard Prince’s ‘Spiritual America IV,’ a 2005 re-staged version of the appropriated photo of a naked, 10-year-old Brooke Shields that brought him critical acclaim and attention in 1983. With estimates of £400,000-600,000, bidding stopped at £280,000, below the reserve.

John Chamberlain’s ‘Mr. Moto’ sold for £529,250, within estimates of £400,000-600,000, via Phillips de Pury

The second highest lot was John Chamberlain’s ‘Mr. Moto,’ which £529,250, within estimates of £400,000-600,000. The most exciting moment of the evening was the ten-minute-long bidding war between two telephone bidders over Jack Goldstein’s ‘Untitled,’ going up at £1,000 increments before finally selling for £121,250, far above estimates of £20,000-30,000. An untitled painting by Yue Minjun sold for £421,250, well above estimates of £250,000-300,000, proving that the once hot Chinese contemporary market hasn’t completely tanked. However, an untitled painting by Zhang Xiaogang failed to sell against estimates of £300–400,000.

Jack Goldstein’s ‘Untitled’ sold for £121,250, far above estimates of £20,000-30,000, via Phillips de Pury

Despite diminished sales, moods were generally high, with a consensus that the market has finished its free fall. Solid sales at Sotheby’s Contemporary Sales last week have given buyers and sellers confidence. Tonight’s auction at Christie’s will perhaps provide a more definite gauge of the market going into the slow summer season.

Mark Grotjahn’s ‘Untitled (large colored butterfly white background 10 wings)’ sold for £145,250, above estimates of £70,000-100,000, via Phillips de Pury

Jeff Koons’s ‘Mermaid Troll’ sold for £241,250, below estimates of £250,000-350,000, via Phillips de Pury

Yue Minjun’s ‘Untitled’ sold for £421,250, well above estimates of £250,000-300,000, via Phillips de Pury

Kehinde Wiley’s ‘Passing/Posing – St. Helena’ sold for £51,650, above estimates of £25,000-35,000, via Phillips de Pury

Damien Hirst’s ‘Beautiful Lazarides Inc. Auction Spinny Thingy Where Will It All End, Money For Old Rope, Buy This You Bugger, Its Got Kline Blue Bloody Splashes In It For Fuck’s Sake, Love You Really Painting (with xxxxx)’ sold for £193,250, above estimates of £100,000-150,000, via Phillips de Pury