The Phillips Contemporary Art Evening Sale wrapped tonight in London, kicking off another edition of Frieze week auctions in the British capital. Running efficiently through the 38 lot auction, the first in the week’s three nights of sales achieved strong, if not expectable results. With the events of Frieze week as a major draw for collectors around the world, Phillips had little problem finding new buyers for all but 6 of the works on sale, with 10 lots selling well above their maximum estimates.
Overall, the auction outcome stayed within the realm of prediction. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Thomas Schütte all performed to expectations, as did the cover lot, Gerhard Richter’s seminal 1988 work, Weiß (White), selling just below the minimum estimate for a final price of £2.4 million. Other highly priced works, including an untitled Christopher Wool and a 1981 Basquiat also sold, although the Basquiat went for over £1 million less than anticipated, with a final price of £1.8 million (about 62% of its original estimate).
Living up to expectations, painter Oscar Murillo’s Untitled (2006) smashed through its anticipated estimate of £40-£60,000, settling at a final price of £218,000, a 364% increase that hovered just several thousand pounds below the artist’s current auction record. With additional sales at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s later this week, it’s possible that the Colombian-born artist just may see a new auction record set this week.
Also exceeding expectations, Tauba Auerbach’s untitled work from 2011 was a strong seller, beating its pre-auction estimate by £150,000 to sell for a final price just over a half million pounds. Several other works were not so lucky, including a visceral Nate Lowman canvas, a Richard Prince cowboy print, and a foreboding chain link fence and razor-wire sculpture by Liza Lou, all of which failed to find a buyer.
Serving as a brief but promising overture to the larger auctions of Sotheby’s and Christie’s in the days ahead, the auction at Phillips points to a relative strength of the market even in the face of a potential U.S. credit default. While few pieces managed to set astounding new prices for the artists at sale, the strong overall sales record should conceivably carry through the rest of the week’s sales.
Phillips [Auction Site]