[private_subscriber][private_bundle]Phillips de Pury’s day sale was moderately successful by bringing in a total that was two thirds of their evening sale take. For all three auction houses, the day sales were impressively strong. Christie’s topped out the sell through rate with an astonishing 88% of the day lots sold and an average price of $153,188. Sotheby’s sold fractionally more lots at almost exactly the same price. The final stats are 85% of the lots sold at an average price of $149,365.
For Contemporary art, then, we have a strong baseline value at $150,000. With the two leading houses able to make sales on at least 85% of their well-chosen lots, the day sales offer even stronger evidence of the depth of demand in the market. By comparison, in May the day sales had 13% fewer lots on offer and sold through 20% fewer lots with sell-through rates in the mid-70s and average prices that were lower.
In May there was substantial gap between the average price at Christie’s and the average price at Sotheby’s. This suggests that the mix of works was crucial in determining sales among the narrower group of buyers. This month, buyers seemed more evenly dispersed (or the two leading houses converged in their choices of artists and work) and the total was 50% higher than in the Spring.
- Alexander Calder was the most represented artist among successful day sale lots. A Wayne Thiebaud equaled the top Calder in selling price but the sheer number of Calder works (21 in the day sales) on offer and the number of Calder works that sold in the top ten of both houses remains impressive. Calder seems to have benefited from the flight to quality that followed the collapse of the credit bubble and the increased value of his jewelry which has attracted significant buyers.
- Andy Warhol is the most represented artist in the day sales with 31 lots offered. There were also significant numbers of lots by Roy Lichtenstein, Josef Albers, Jasper Johns, Jean Dubuffet, Wayne Thiebaud and Sol LeWitt. Some of these artists were well represented because of rising prices while others were merely the effect of estates being sold that had deep holdings of the artist’s work.
- The rapid gainers of the day sales were William Anastasi who had two works at Christie’s that were highly contested. Neither work was estimated above four figures but both sold very well. A work from 1996 entitled 12.25.96 13:20-13:32 4/3 5-5 made $37,500 with premium. And Sink which sold for a lofty $170,500–an extraordinary sum even with the Merce Cunningham provenance.
- On a smaller scale, the work Sonja Sekula was mostly in great demand as three out of the four lots by this troubled artist who died at the age of 45 sold for substantial sums above the estimate. Again, the provenance may have strongly influenced the value but at least one of the works was sold within the estimate range.
- Alfred Jensen had five works throughout the day sales that all sold well. Two of the works at Christie’s sold for mid-five figure sums that were four and five times the high estimate with premium.
- During Christie’s afternoon sale, the rapid gainers were spread evenly across a broad group of artists including Christopher Wool, George Condo, Robert Mangold and Francesco Clemente. But the artists who attracted serious money in excess of already stubstantial advances were Neil Jenney, Charles Ray, John McCracken and Julian Schnabel. Schnabel’s Vallensasca was estimated at between $100-150,000 but sold for $320k hammer and the buyer paid $386,500 to take the work home. Three Schnabels sold at Christie’s that day.
- Six John McCracken works sold during this auction cycle. All but one were at prices near the highest estimate or well above.
- Proving the $302,500 sale of one of Charles Ray’s works during the May evening sales was not a fluke, a drawing made $230,500 during the day sale last week.
- At Sotheby’s, the day sale rapid gainers were lead by a Sol LeWitt that sold for $362,500 premium price over a top estimate of $80k. The only other LeWitt to outsell it was estimated much higher and, indeed, failed to reach the low estimate. Though it was sold for $458,500.
- Perhaps the most noteworthy rapid gainer at Sotheby’s day sale was Kelley Walker who had two works that were impressive, over-the -top-estimate successes.
- Finally, Allan D’Arcangelo and Kenneth Noland both had works that sold for $430k and $420k hammer prices respectively that represented substantial premiums above the estimate range. D’Arcangelo, in particular, has been climbing the mid-season sales to become a pop artist of almost the second rank.