Phillips’s 20th century and contemporary auction achieved a record $134.5 million.
Amy Sherald, The Bathers (2015). Courtesy Phillips.
Phillips’s 20th century and contemporary sale closed in New York yesterday with a final total of $134.5 million, a nearly 25 percent increase from the firm’s same sale last fall and the highest sales ever achieved at the auction house’s New York location. The auction saw 31 out of 35 lots find buyers for a sell-through rate of 89 percent by lot.
Jean-Paul Engelen and Robert Manley, Phillips’s worldwide co-heads of 20th century and contemporary art, said in a statement:
We are thrilled to be ending an unprecedented year so strongly; nine months after the initial shut down that threw the live auction world into uncertainty we have just had one of the strongest sales in Phillips’ history. This success is testimony to the strength of our team and the deep relationships we have with our collectors, forged over decades of expertly bringing the best works to market with the creativity and dynamism for which Phillips is known. The sale was one of our most diverse and we were pleased to see five artists of color achieve worldwide auction records this evening.
Among the artists whose work achieved new auction records were Amy Sherald, Kehinde Wiley, Vaughn Spann, Jadé Fadojutimi, and Mickalene Thomas. Sherald’s pastel-hued 2015 canvas The Bathers shattered the artist’s previous record of $350,000 when it sold for $4.2 million, beating its high estimate of $200,000 by a factor of more than 20. Wiley’s 2017 portrait of fellow artist and auction record-breaker Mickalene Thomas, meanwhile, sold for $378,000, surpassing the artist’s previous record of $350,000, set at Sotheby’s this past June.