The New York Times’s Inside Art column trumpets Phillips having secured a large collection of contemporary art that was assembled by prominent advisor, Allan Schwartzman. The 140 works are valued at $35m and Phillips was able to get a third party guarantee which is both good and bad for the firm because it limits Phillips potential earning even while it puts a floor on the risk involved in the sale.
Times thinks that this is sign of Phillips competing with the big boys but it is hard to see, in this day and age of defining the middle market as works from $1 to $5m, that either Sotheby’s or Christie’s would have fought hard to guarantee a collection with an aggregate average price of $250,000. In reality, the bulk of the value lies in just a few works. So Sotheby’s and Christie’s would have spent their resources disposing of 130-odd other works:
While Phillips’s sales are still dwarfed by the multimillion-dollar bonanzas at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, the consignment is the first big single-owner collection won under Mr. Dolman’s leadership. If all goes as expected, it will also be the highest valued collection it has offered since Mercury Group, a Russian real estate and retail conglomerate, took over Phillips at the end of 2008. Highlights include Brice Marden’s “Elements (Hydra) 1999-2000/2001,” estimated at $8 million to $12 million; “Porch Crop” by Ed Ruscha, estimated at $2 million to $3 million; John Chamberlain sculptures; and Wolfgang Tillmans photographs.
Most of the works will be sold at Phillips’s contemporary evening sale in New York on May 14, but some items will be available at a photography auction on April 1 and 2 in New York.
Neither Phillips nor Art Agency, Partners will identify the owners, but a number of art world experts said they are the financier Laurence Lebowitz and his wife Naomi Aberly, a Democratic fund-raiser.
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