Last week, Phillips had a late-breaking hit during the ninth inning of the global consignment ballgame that leads up to the May auctions in New York. In a press release it announced it would sell Mark Bradford’s mural-sized painting Helter Skelter II (2007) at its upcoming evening sale of 20th century and contemporary art. It is estimated to sell in excess of $8 million and carries a third-party guarantee, which means just a few back-to-back bids could push the price over the artist’s current record price of $12 million.
And if all this feels like déjà vu, perhaps that’s because in March 2018, Phillips sold the work’s companion piece, Helter Skelter I (2007), at its London salesroom—and that was the very same work that set Bradford’s $12 million record. And while Helter Skelter II is currently estimated at just $8 million, there’s every reason to believe, as Phillips must hope, that there are multiple collectors willing to bid above that for the last of the two-part series. Helter Skelter I, which was consigned by tennis great John McInroe, was bought by mega-collector Eli Broad, and is currently on display at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. That’s a pretty unimpeachable sign of market approval.
In a statement, Jean-Paul Engelen, global co-head of 20th century and contemporary art at Phillips, said:
These works were first shown side-by-side in 2008 at the inaugural exhibition “Collage: The Unmonumental Picture” at New York’s New Museum. Since then, the artist has secured his reputation as one of the leading lights of his generation and is internationally lauded for his brilliant pursuit of socially and politically conscious abstraction. His work has been exhibited around the world, and he represented the United States in the 2017 Venice Biennale. It is an honor to represent this great painting.
Along with the institutional praise that has followed Bradford’s triumphant U.S. Pavilion show in Venice, his star has continued to rise in the international art market. He has become a staple of the world’s biggest art fairs, consigning new works to hang in the booth of his gallery, Hauser & Wirth. After his record was reset in March 2018, Phillips, Christie’s, and Sotheby’s each got an important Bradford on consignment—and all three sold for above $6 million.