This report on the Phillips’s Contemporary Day sale for July 2020 by Angelica Villa is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Last week, before achieving several record results in its evening sales, Phillips hosted its 20th-century and contemporary art day sale, bringing in $10.2 million across 140 lots on offer, seeing an 84 percent sell-through rate overall.
Auctioned in a remote-bidding format during a live-streamed sale, the leading lot across the day sale’s morning and afternoon sessions was Julian Schnabel’s Lazarus, Second Painting for Aldo Moro from 1979, which went for $435,000, at more than four times the low estimate of $100,000. Damien Hirst’s 2010 Beautiful, Flaming Lips Day, Form of a Shell Painting sold at its low estimate for $399,000, and Mary Corse’s untiled painting from 2006 realized a selling price of $250,000 with buyer’s premium, landing within its estimate of $220,000 to $280,000.
Among the top ten sellers of the day sale auctions that far surpassed their pre-sale estimates was Ghanian-born figurative painter Amoako Boafo’s 2018 portrait After the nail color, which bested it’s low estimate of $50,000 by eight times, selling for a total of $225,000. Nicole Eisenman,’s figurative painting Hunnenschlacht from 2001 acquired by the seller from Leo Koenig also surpassed its low estimate of $120,000, achieving a price of $212,500.
Last year’s equivalent May New York contemporary day sale brought in a total of $34.7 million, across 188 lots brining in 9 artist records for works by artists such as Ed Clark, Rashid Johnson and Stanley Whitney. The 2019 sale was the highest total sale result achieved at Phillips and marked their increasing hold on the middle market and far surpassing its 2018 result of $24 million, and the $18.6 million realized in May 2017.
Last year’s momentum has seen an interruption. This season expectedly brought lower figures due to hesitation by sellers concerned about the market during a pandemic. In Friday’s sale, the highest price for a single achieved was slightly lower, with no lots selling for a price of seven figures. In 2019, the day sale’s highest figure was set with a KAWS untitled dolphin figure that sold for $1.1 million, against an estimate of $450,000 to $550,000.
Despite the lower overall results, works by painters from the young contemporary vanguard hard to find on the primary market still bested pre-sale estimates. Irish painter, Genieve Figgis‘ Sunday ladies brought in $125,000, more than double its low estimate of $50,000. Eddie Martinez‘s You know who you are, a 2007 rendering of a bird bought by the seller at Ziehersmith in New York sold fo $162,000, making double the high estimate of $80,000. Jonathan Lyndon Chase‘s Clothes Shopping sold for $50,000, at an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
The sale established five new artist records including Walter Price’s 2015, Aset! Go Tell it on the Mountain that sold for $43,750 doubling its high estimate of $20,000. Mel Bochner’s Blah Blah Blah a text work from 2010 brought in $187,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $187,500. Additional records were set for artists Rirkrit Tiravanija, Sadie Benning and Mauro Perrucchetti between price ranges of $16,000 to $34,000.