Phillips £45.5m London sales; Sotheby’s Chatsworth Synergy
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Phillips Closes Out a Quiet Auction WeekJean-Michel Basquiat’s Fire Engine and Pink Elephant as seen in Rio de JaineroJust catching up on the last of last week’s sales at Phillips which exemplified themes seen all week. Estimates are aspirational; sellers who wanted their money were prepared to compromise. A few works, mostly by women artists, dropped into a pool of collectors primed to bid and buy.Phillips’ Cheyenne Westphal put it succinctly to The New York Times’s Scott Reyburn:
“There’s been a correction. Buyers are looking to discover something new,” Cheyenne Westphal, the chairwoman of Phillips, said, referring to how price growth for some established male artists, particularly abstract painters, has stalled. “There’s a return to figuration, and the artists are very diverse,” she added. “A global audience responds to that.”
While no new records were broken, the three lots that performed best against their mid-estimates were all by women artists. Tschabalala Self continued the hot streak that began at Christie’s on Tuesday, as another 2015 work with a high estimate of £60,000 ($75,435) ended up hammering at £190,000 ($241,002), or £237,500 ($301,252) with fees. Marlene Dumas’s Losing (Her Meaning) (1988) was estimated to sell for between £400,000 ($507,372) and £600,000 ($761,058), but ended up hammering for £1 million ($1.2 million), or £1.2 million ($1.5 million) with fees. Also outperforming expectations was Lynette Yiadom-Boakye—her 2015 painting, Leave A Brick Under the Maple, was estimated to sell for between £250,000 (317,108) and £450,000 ($570,794), but ended up hammering at £650,000 ($824,480) to the buyer on the phone with Phillips client development manager Vera Antoshenkova. With fees, the price was £795,000 ($1 million).
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s market looks patchy, although the material on offer this week has varied wildly in quality; 1984 is the golden year as far as his work is concerned. So his 1981 painting of baseball player Jackie Robinson was never destined to fly. It sold to an anonymous woman in the room for £3.2m (£3.8m with fees), barely making any profit for the seller who bought it at Phillips New York in May 2013 for $4.1m.
One of Basquiat’s biggest collectors—and guarantors—José Mugrabi looked restless last night, as did his adviser Adam Chinn who was seen pacing in and out of the saleroom, at one point hurrying after Mugrabi. He appeared to be bidding through Robert Manley of Phillips, who won the final lot of the night: a five-part oil stick on acetate by Basquiat for £260,000 (£471,000 with fees; est £500,000-£700,000).
The syntax here leaves it difficult to know whether the writer has inferred that Mugrabi or Chinn was bidding through Robert Manley but the assumption is no more accurate than the claim that 1984 was Basquiat’s “golden year.”Colin Gleadell, who actually does his homework, had these highs and lows from the sale on Artnet:
There were disappointments, however. Dana Schutz’s six-foot canvas Moonwalker (2009) had an sky-high estimate of £550,000 to £750,000 and a guarantee, but it suffered a failure to launch—selling, probably to the guarantor, for £675,000 ($855,200), quite a bit short of the US artist’s $2.4 million record.
Also carrying a record-high estimate was Harold Ancart’s triptych Untitled (Deep Fried) from 2014 (estimate £300,000 to £400,000), but this one did heat up quickly, with bids flying back and forth from Asia and Florida before selling for £519,00 ($658,000), another second-highest auction price in the sale.
Gleadell also brought up the small cache of works being sold by baseball star Alex Rodriguez:
A car fan, A-Rod had a painting of a Ford Mustang by Richard Prince for sale—but maybe because J. Lo didn’t want it, no one at the sale wanted it either, even for below its £600,000 estimate. Rodriguez’s 1984 Basquiat painting of a pink elephant was only marginally less disappointing, selling below the £3 million estimate to a US phone bidder for £2.65 million ($3.4 million).
Gleadell might not know how disappointing the sale was for Rodriguez. Contrary to the auction spin that Rodriquez is selling art he has collected to fund buying with his new partner, Jennifer Lopez, the Basquiat Rodriguez sold was on view six months ago in Brazil as part of the Mugrabi collection. Dealer speculation puts the price tag the batsman would have paid around $6m. Another reminder that there’s always someone who thinks they can make easy money flipping art.
Sotheby’s Gives Chatsworth a StageSotheby’s has built an elaborate stage set with the help of designer David Korins to show off some of the great works from the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth. The Duke has long been a member of Sotheby’s Board of Directors but the synergy here is more than Sotheby’s taking advantage of the Summer months (and its massive new galleries) to mount a travel brochure for the boss’s country seat and draw attention to the company’s 275th anniversary:
More than forty masterworks have been selected for the exhibition to represent the remarkable breadth of the Devonshire Collection – fine art from Rembrandt van Rijn to Lucian Freud, furniture and decorative objects from the 16th century to 21st-century design, and exceptional jewels, costumes, and archive materials commemorating historic occasions will all be on view to the public. Among the highlights is one of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest drawings which will be on view in the US for the first time in more than 15 years and the historic diamond Devonshire Tiara, worn in weddings since it was created in 1865.
Sotheby’s has assembled a private selling exhibition based upon the Cavendish taste in the adjacent galleries. Historic old master paintings, including a Frans Hals, porcelain and works of art fill several rooms that Sotheby’s business getters and private sales staff will be only too happy to lead buyers and potential clients through.
- Giovanni Paolo Panini’s A Panoramic View of St Peter’s Square, Rome ($1.95m)
- Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s La Ville et Lac de Côme ($1.5m)
- Ceramics by Felicity Aylieff
- a set of Meissen birds ($900k)
- a Louis XIV silver soup tureen ($1.135m) made by Antoine Boullier for the Duke de Mortemart
- Adrian Sassoon has provided works by Hiroshi Suzuki, Junko Mori and Pippin Drysdale