Phillips de Pury kicked off the week of Contemporary art sales on Monday night with two back-to-back auctions. First came a 22-lot benefit auction with all proceeds going to the Guggenheim Foundation, immediately followed by the 44-lot evening sale of Contemporary art. The Guggenheim sale was estimated to bring $1.5-2.2 million and realized $2.7 million (the buyer’s premium was eliminated for that sale), and the evening sale brought in $71 million against a high estimate of $97 million. The evening’s top lot was an untitled Cy Twombly canvas that fetched $9 million against estimates of $8-12 million.
Top lot at the Guggenheim sale was Maurizio Cattelan’s group of taxidermied pigeons that sold for $580,000, above the high estimate of $400,000. Bidders seemed to be feeling charitable during the benefit auction as most of the lots offered exceeded presale estimates. The most extreme case was a work by Nate Lowman that carried a presale estimate of $40,000-60,000 and sold for an astronomical $240,000.
During the evening sale another Marilyn-inspired piece was not as hotly chased. Bidding ended for the auction’s cover lot -Warhol’s Nine Gold Marilyns – at the low estimate of $7 million, or $8 million with fees. The same was true of Alexander Calder’s Trepied, which sold for its low estimate of $5 million, or $5.7 million with fees.
A Damien Hirst spot painting was a casualty of the evening. Works by Andy Warhol, Urs Fischer, and Philip Guston were also bought in. Overall, both sales achieved healthy sell through rates – the Guggenheim auction sold 93% by value and 95% by lot, and the Contemporary auction sold 94% by value and 84% by lot.
The evening sales continue tomorrow night at Christie’s. Check back for results.