Phillips racked up its highest sale total in the company’s history tonight – $135 million – led by a $57.8 million Picasso and a $20.5 million Matisse sculpture. Both works doubled their estimates. Phillips also set an $11.98 million artist record for Mark Bradford, with a work being sold from the collection of John McEnroe.
There were gasps and applause after a sustained bidding battle for the Picasso by prospective buyers in the London saleroom and on the telephone. The hammer came down at £37 million pounds to a phone bidder. Phillips said the buyer was a private anonymous collector – not surprisingly, one who appreciates art and is wealthy. The formal price with fees was £41,859,000, or $57,819,837.
Phillips CEO Ed Dolman, speaking after the auction, hailed the event as a spectacular result after a week of solid evening sales, with the market now looking to the next round of auctions in New York.
The quality of lots was helped by Phillips Chairman Cheyenne Westphal, who joined the company in 2016. She is the former international head of contemporary art as Sotheby’s. She hailed the Mark Bradford sale, identifying him as one of the rising art-market stars.
The Phillips sale was not far off Sotheby’s total of $157.7 million the evening before. It was 92% sold by lot and 98% by value, the latter beating both Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the previous days. The earlier best-selling lots of the week from the big houses included the $31.2 million Warhol self-portraits at Christie’s and a $19.9 million Peter Doig landscape at Sotheby’s.
Phillips’s Dina Amin, Head of 20th-Century & Contemporary Art, said the total exceeded last year’s result by almost seven times. The company’s previous largest auction by total raised $131.5 million in New York in May 2014.
The top lot this time was Picasso’s work “La Dormeuse,” painted in his key year of 1932. The auction took place on the day the Tate Modern opened its show of Picasso in that year “Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame Tragedy.” The large-scale portrait of the artist’s muse Marie-Thérèse Walter was estimated at £12/18 million. The portrait, with a sketched outline and a blue wash only in one corner, remained in the artist’s collection until the end of his life, when it was inherited by his widow Jacqueline Roque, and later her daughter.
It sale came immediately after Matisse’s “Nu allongé I (Aurore).” The work, conceived in 1907 and cast about 1908 in an edition of 10, was estimated at £5/7 million and made £14,859,000 with fees. Picasso’s work was said to have been influenced by Matisse’s raised elbows and twisted poses such as in this sculpture. The buyer was also an anonymous private collector, though apparently not the same one as the Picasso purchaser.
The third biggest lot proved to be Mark Bradford’s 32-foot-wide wall work “Helter Skelter.” This was estimated at £6/8 million and made £8.67 million with fees, beating a record of £3.83 million. The silver-gray mural from 2007 is an early example of his mixed media collages of detritus found on the streets of Los Angeles.
Founder Louise Blouin: http://www.blouinartinfo.com/artists/louise-blouin--2953510