With £5 million realized in the evening sale, and about half the lots sold, plus £3 million from the day sale, Phillips de Pury’s October Contemporary art sale ran headlong into the credit crisis. Though artists like Antony Gormley and Marlene Dumas found their work in demand, the marquee lots by Takashi Murakami, Elizabeth Peyton and Joan Mitchell failed to find buyers.
Josh Baer reports that Takashi Murakami was a buyer at PdP (a Chapman work.) Others noted that no work over $1 million sold at the auction house. The question for Phillips de Pury is whether their problems lie in having moved to high up the price ladder for the new economic climate or whether their consignors were less flexible about reserves.
Bloomberg‘s Scott Reyburn reports:
“The most dramatic moment came when Murakami’s 21-foot-high Fiberglass sculpture “Tongari-kun” (2003-2004) failed to attract a single bid. It was expected to fetch at least 3.5 million pounds. The Japanese artist, clad in a black puffy jacket, attended the auction and laughed after the lot was passed in a hushed room.”
“Among the casualties were Lisa Yuskavage’s 2003 oil-on-canvas work “Dark Garden II,” a 2001 joke painting by Prince and a pink acrylic work of blank advertising signs from 2004 by Ed Ruscha.
Not a single lot sold for 1 million pounds or more. None of the 10 top-selling works managed to achieve a hammer price above the higher estimate. The top lot, Warhol’s “Flowers” (1964), fetched a mid-estimate 735,650 pounds, going to a telephone bidder.”