Thursday’s Contemporary Art Auction at Phillips de Pury NYC totalled at $88.9 million, sitting squarely in the middle of its pre-sale estimates of $75.9 million to $110.7 million. Of the 44 works on offer, 35 found buyers, with the star lot of the night being a 1981 painting by Basquiat being sold by US collector Robert Lehrman. Three telephone bidders battled it out until the sale finally settled at $16.3 million, smashing its $12 million high estimate. The was a record price for the artist at auction.
Other major sales included: a Willem de Kooning work entitled (or not) ‘Untitled VI’ which sold for $12.4 million, at a midpoint between its estimations of $10 million to $15 million; two Warhols, one selling for or $10.3 million, the other for $7 million.
Among those works that failed to sell were pieces by big name artists Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter. Other works sold for the low estimates, and only with auctioneer fees included. Twombly’s ‘Untitled (Bolsena)’, for instance, went for $6.2 million when its low estimate had been decided at $6 million, and Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Brushstroke Nude,’, went for $5.4 million near its low estimate of $5 million.
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