The Master, Judd Tully, notes the odd turn of events at Phillips yesterday when a lot that had passed earlier in the sale was brought back and sold at a bid lower than the original buy-in level. Here’s what else the eagle-eyed Tully saw:
The [Koons cover lot that failed to sell], in which the 30 balls are all entombed in their original cardboard packaging, last sold at auction at Phillips New York in 2004, when collector Aby Rosen acquired it for $435,000. It later sold to Korean dealer Yung Hee Kim as part of a large Koons package valued at $11 million, according to several trade sources. It is believed tonight’s vendor was Kim.
At isolated moments, the market felt frisky, and a handful of lots exceeded their high estimates, including Bill Viola’s impressive video projection on gold and silver leaf panels, Unspoken (Silver & Gold) from 2001, which sold for £144,000 (est. £70-90,000). The work was one of six lots from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Collections, which were being sold to benefit Iceland’s Living Art Museum.
Another strong performer was Zeng Fanzhi’s large-scale narrative painting, Huang Jiguang from 2006, which sold to a telephone bidder for £360,000 (est. £200-250,000).
That turned out to be the second highest result lot of the evening, not far behind Martin Kippenberger’s caustically clever ode to Sigmund Freud, Portrait of Paul Schreber (designed by himself) from 1994, which sold to another telephone bidder for £432,000 (est. £400-600,000).
Some artists who rode the big waves in the recent market boom appeared to have been downsized in commercial stature. Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Pink Butterfly M02G) from 2002 sold to Stefan Ratibor of Gagosian Gallery, one of the artist’s key dealers, for £180,000 (est. £200-300,000).
“I liked the pink Grotjahn, but I already own one,” said London collector Edward Lee after the sale. “They were trading at $500-600,000 not so long ago, and I don’t know whether it’s better to sit on my hands or sell some works to get some money back.”
Phillips Sale Misses the Mark (ArtInfo)