15 November, 2010

15 Nov - Christies, Sotheby's, and Phillips

LAUNCHPROJECTS - We returned last night from New York where we attended auctions, Bruce Nauman's opening at the new Sperone Westwater Gallery, met with clients, gallerists, and saw many great exhibitions and works of art. All three auctions were exciting and indicated that the market is truly in recovery mode, the three auction houses combined came to the sum of $632 million, almost triple the $216 million a year ago.
Phillips de Pury was the first of the three auctions and made the most stunning increase in sales over it's results last year, increasing its total nearly 20-fold to $137 million total. The stunner of the auction was a black and white painting of Elizabeth Taylor by Andy Warhol fetching $63.4 million, the second-highest price ever for a Warhol at auction.
At Christies, Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 painting of a pouting redhead sold for an artist record $42.6 million - it seemed as though as buyers stuck predominantly with 1960s pop art. The evening was excruciating long (two hours, 75-lots), yet 93 percent of lots found buyers. At Sotheby's, a Warhol painting of a Coca- Cola bottle sold for $35.4 million yesterday, making the artist the star of New York’s contemporary art auctions across the board. As art advisor Mary Hoeveler told Lindsay Pollock reporting for Bloomberg, “Warhol has been the driver of the postwar- and contemporary-art market since the decline...The appetite at the very top seems insatiable. You can name your price.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of this week's auction was that much of the success of Phillips de Pury's auction can be attributed to collector and private dealer Philippe Segalot who curated “Carte Blanche,’’ a smaller section of the Phillips evening sale. Segalot stocked the sale with names he champions and lined up bidders in exchange for a cut of the buyer’s fees. With the success of the joint venture it seems likely that there will be more "curated" auctions in the future. Auction catalogs already look like exhibition catalogs with critical essays and art historical references - this new approach promises to further blur the boundaries of the gallery, museum, and auction worlds.
Pictured Above: Roy Lichtenstein's record busting "Ohhh...Alright..." at Christie's from seller Steve Wynn, Tobias Meyer with Warhol Coke bottle at Sotheby's press preview. © Photo: Lindsay Pollock

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