Bonhams, which has never previously factored in these sales in New York or London guaranteed 7 lots with third-party backing that accounted for three quarters of their sale's total, as Colin Gleadell points out on artnet News:“The problem is you’re dead if you can’t offer guarantees,” said Dolman.
Average prices at Bonhams contemporary art sales have increased from £8,000 to £100,000 in the last four years, they tell me. Today the low estimate was £4.7 million ($6.1 million) for 39 lots. They took £7.1 million ($9.2 million) in the end, which is probably their best ever for contemporary art.The guarantees also provide access to buyers as the results show:
The ace in the pack was Mark Bradford’s Dream Deferral (2009), which the seller bought at Christie’s in 2015 for £902,500. It sold to the Mnuchin Gallery for £1,565,000 ($2,000,000). Another guaranteed lot which attracted competitive bidding was an untitled 1988 work by Rudolf Stingel which saw bidding from dealers Brian Balfour-Oats and Paolo Vedovi before selling for £461,000 ($600,000), double its estimate. The painting last sold at Sotheby’s in 2013 for £242,500.Mnuchin, Vedovi are not regular buyers at Bonhams but their presence gives the auction house a better shot at winning consignments as long as they can arrange the backing. At Phillips, successive increases in sales volume and market share have been the focus of the media's coverage of the house. With Christie's absence from this sales cycle, the house has had a lot of fun touting its artificially high market share of 28%. But the results reveal something more consequential taking place. We'll get to that below. First, let's look at some of the coverage.
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