Damien Hirst Is Saving Grace For Lukewarm Auction
Buyers lack enthusiasm at first post-war and contemporary sale of the season, uncharacteristically held by Phillips De Pury
Phillips De Pury hosted the first post-war and contemporary sale of the season last night, and, whilst results were by no means as disappointing as those seen at Christie's last week, neither could the sale be called a runaway success. The overall sales total was $71.2m, comfortably above the low estimate of $66m, but a far cry from the high estimate of $97.3m.
The highest valued lot at the evening auction was an untitled 2006 canvas by Cy Twombly, estimated to bring in up to $12m. However, the piece ultimately failed to deliver and was reportedly bought by an anonymous telephone bidder for just over $9m (albeit the second-highest price ever reached for the artist's work). Critics are speculating that it was perhaps an overly-optimistic estimate which accounted for this lukewarm outcome.
This result was echoed by the majority of the lots offered, with most fetching amounts within their estimated price brackets but very few reaching the high end. Warhol's 'Nine Gold Marilyns (Reversal Series)' had been guaranteed to sell for between $7m and $10m but in the end only just made this estimate at $7m (or $7.9m including commission). One of the handful of pieces which exceeded expectation was Damien Hirst's 'Disintegration – the Crown of Life', which was bought by fashion mogul Tommy Hilfiger for above its $1.2m estimate, at $1.4m.
Overall, only 7 of 44 lots failed to find buyers, a figure which when compared to Christie's disappointing 31 out of 82 means that this generally solid sale cannot be considered a failure for Phillips. However, there was certainly a degree of reluctance amongst buyers. It is worth noting that this is the first time that the house – considerably smaller than its two rivals - has kicked off the week's sales; perhaps buyers were holding back in anticipation of grander sales later this week. Words Maddie Bates © 2011 ArtLyst