Katya Kazakina has a rather tame accounting of the bidding for works from the Siegel estate. The well-known sibling rivalry—a continual reminder of the odd connection between money and emotion—seems to have resulted in pitting Christie’s against Sotheby’s with Phillips as stalking horse.
According to Kazakina, Phillips bid more than Christie’s by a substantial sum but the Sanders branch of the Siegel family went with their long-time relationships.
“It was Sotheby’s business to lose because of Gabby and Alex,” said Arthur Sanders, Pamela’s husband. “We weren’t hiring the building. We were hiring the people in the building.”
Of course, no one but Christie’s and the Sanders (and Sotheby’s and the Wilkses) really know the financial terms of the guarantees.
The stakes were fairly high here. Had the Sanders family gone with Sotheby’s, the two houses would be neck-and-neck for market share (though it would have been hard to land the Wilks Basquiat too.)
Had Phillips won the consignment, the competitive landscape in New York would have been completely re-shaped, at least for a season, underscoring just how dynamic and potentially volatile the Contemporary art market has become for the auctioneers.