Art Market

$21 Million Doig Leads Phillips’s $114 Million Night

Anna Louie Sussman
Nov 17, 2017 2:19PM

Courtesy of Phillips.

Phillips posted solid numbers at Thursday night’s New York evening sale, led by Peter Doig’s Red House (1995–96). The night also featured extended bidding for a Pablo Picasso work on paper, and a pair of fresh artist’s records, for Carmen Herrera and Hélio Oiticica.

The sale totaled $114.8 million across a total of 39 works, roughly even with the same sale a year ago, which brought in $111.2 million over 34 lots. The sale notched a 91% sell-through rate by lot and 96% by value. One lot, Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (White Butterfly Blue Big Nose Baby Moose) (2005), which was expected to sell for $3.5 million to $4.5 million, was withdrawn.

Phillips was the first house to follow Christie’s blockbuster, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime sale the prior evening, in which a Leonardo da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi, went for a record-smashing $450 million. The evening started with some early enthusiastic bidding, including an extended back and forth over Picasso’s Portrait de femme endormie. III (1946), which sold for $8 million or $9.3 million with buyer’s fees, over five times its high estimate of $1.5 million.

The Doig carried the highest estimate of the night, at $18 million to $22 million. The familiar subject matter for the artist—a house, a forest, snow—is rendered with a lighter touch, marking a key moment in the evolution of his style from earlier more thickly painted works. But bidding was tepid, with the work going for just above its low estimate at $18.5 million, or $21.1 million with buyer’s fees.

Franz Kline’s nearly seven-foot-tall Sawyer (1959), another big-ticket work with an estimate between $10 million and $15 million, went for just $8.6 million, or just under $10 million with fees. The painting was made in the early years after his shift toward using more color, with pale peach, cream, and ochre alongside the black, white, and greys. It was last sold at Sotheby’s in 2003 for $1 million, including fees.

An untitled 2004 Cy Twombly, estimated at $6 million to $8 million, comes from his “Winter Pictures” series, painted in the last decade of his life. It sold for $6.4 million or $7.5 million with fees, again at the low estimate.

Rudolf Stingel’s Untitled (2012) sold for $5.4 million, or $6.3 million with fees, at the low end of its $5 million to $7 million estimate. It was cast from a panel of malleable Celotex insulation paneling that he’d installed in 2007 as part of a traveling museum retrospective, and on which visitors had been invited to make their mark using any implement at hand. After casting this panel and electroplating it in copper, this one was further plated with nickel and gold.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s fresh-to-market Untitled (Halloween) (c. 1982) nonetheless sold at its low estimate of $3.5 million, or $4.2 million with fees. The vivid red canvas, which references legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker, was acquired directly from the artist by the seller.

Carmen Herrera, the 102-year-old Cuban-American painter whose market has risen dramatically in recent years (alongside those of other older women artists), set a new auction record with her Untitled (Orange and Black) (1956), which went for $970,000, or $1.1 million with fees, straddling its high estimate of $1 million, and exceeding her previous record of $970,000 with fees set last year.

Hélio Oiticica’s P31 Parangolé, capa 24, Escrerbuto (1972) also set an auction record despite selling for below its low estimate of $600,000. It went for $500,000, or $615,000 with fees, still quite a jump from his previous record of $362,500 set in 2010.

Anna Louie Sussman