The second night of the New York auction season saw a fairly tepid sale of 20th century and contemporary art at Phillips, with a total net sale of $139 million. Don and Mera Rubell were spotted in the room, which had an air of precocious optimism aThe evening had the potential to be the auction house’s highest-grossing sale ever, with a pre-sale estimate of $118.5 million to $165.3 million. Of them lots were withdrawn and 17 pieces were guaranteed by third parties, and two had internal guarantees.
This profit potential is mainly due to the sending of an untitled piece of Cy Twombly from his Bacchus Psilax Mainomenos series, eight paintings completed in 2005, five years before the artist’s death. The works all use blood-red pigment splattered in endless loops, mixing feelings of joy and violence. The coin sold for a decent $42 million off its $35-45 million estimate (with an in-house warranty), and the room cheered when the hammer finally struck.
Previously, the sale opened with four works by young women painters. The first was Ilana Savdie’s bright and psychedelic Marimonda Desplegada (2020), which sold for $176,000 off its modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. The following batches proceeded in the same way, with that of Danica Lundy miss fist kiss (2019) grossing $189,000 on its estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. Auction house sweetheart Lauren Quin sold Arrow (2020) for $164,000 off its $70,000-100,000 estimate, and Avery Singer brought it all home with an untitled abstract portrait that sold for $1.7 million off its $1.5-2 million estimate. of dollars.
On renowned young female painters, heads reliably perked up when bidding opened for Anna Weyant Hobo (2020), which, as I reported in my Wet Paint section, had made the rounds of the secondary market earlier this year with a price tag of $950,000. The coin had an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, which barely matches the end of what I have on good authority, that is, its main prices for its current issue presented to Gagosian at a few blocks north of the auction house. He eventually hammered out $391,000.
Other highlight lots included a delightfully surreal painting by René Magritte of a unicorn with a castle turret for its horn and a strangely human face, The meteor (1964), sold for $4.3 million. Mark Grotjahn’s entropy Untitled (Cirque n°12 Face 44.30) (2014) grossed $9.8 million, on the lower end of its $8–12 million estimate.
María Berrío set her auction record with He loves me, he doesn’t love me (2015), which sold for $1.6 million. A magnificent portrait of Marc Chagall, The father (1911), by the artist’s father sold for $7.4 million – the next step in the piece’s rich provenance, which includes its recent return to David Cender by the French government after it was stolen from the Cender family during the Nazi occupation (Along the way, Chagall himself recovered the piece and his estate then donated it to the Center Pompidou.)
“The harrowing and compelling story of the painting after it endedion, all leading up to the wonderful news of his return to the Cender family makes the story of The father all the more fascinating,” Jeremiah Evarts, Vice President, Americas, said of the coin’s sale.
Another interesting batch was presented by Richard Roundtree, the actor who played a detective in the 1971 Gordon Parks film, “Shaft”. He brought Phillips a piece by Ernie Barnes depicting elongated, abstract basketball players. Slam before the storm (1979), which sold for $600,000, doubling its low estimate of $300,000. At a press conference for the sale, Robert Manley, the house’s vice-chairman and co-global director, said: “I’m sure he’s just thrilled at the moment.”
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