Auction Results: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening and Day Sales, October 20 and 21, 2020 @Phillips London

In the recent London Contemporary Art sale season, Phillips was the only one of the three major auction houses to bring a meaningful selection of contemporary photography to market – both Christie’s and Sotheby’s failed to have even a single photograph in their Evening sales, and neither of their Day sale photo offerings merited a full statistical tally.

At Phillips’ 20th Century & Contemporary Art sales last week, the photography on offer performed solidly. While the top lot Wolfgang Tillmans abstraction didn’t sell, basically everything else did. With an overall Buy-In rate under 12% and one other positive surprise (an early Thomas Ruff head portrait), the Total Sale Proceeds for photography came in above £800K, above the low end of the aggregate pre-sale estimate range.

The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):

Summary Statistics
Total Lots 17
Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate £765000
Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate £1136000
Total Lots Sold 15
Total Lots Bought In 2
Buy In % 11.76%
Total Sale Proceeds £818900

Here is the breakdown (using our usual Low, Mid, and High price tier definitions):

Detailed Breakdown
Low Total Lots 0
Total Low Lots Sold NA
Total Low Lots Bought In NA
Low Buy In % NA
Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots £0
Total Proceeds from Low Lots £0
Mid Total Lots 6
Total Mid Lots Sold 6
Total Mid Lots Bought In 0
Mid Buy In % 0.00%
Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots £106000
Total Proceeds from Mid Lots £119600
Total High Lots 11
Total High Lots Sold 9
Total High Lots Bought In 2
High Buy In % 18.18%
Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots £1030000
Total Proceeds from High Lots £818900

The top photography lot by High estimate was lot 39, Wolfgang Tillmans, Freischwimmer 27, 2003, estimated at £210000-300000; it did not sell.

The top photography outcome of the sales was lot 40, Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 110 by 72 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient ‘Spectrum’, mousedown y=23900 x=11650, mouseup y=32650 x=11650, 2009, estimated at £100000-150000, sold at £252000 (image above, via Phillips).

93.33% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range and there was just 1 positive surprise in the sales (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate) (image above, via Phillips):

Lot 256, Thomas Ruff, Portrait (J. Blum), 1989, estimated at £7000-9000, sold at £26460

The complete lot by lot results can be found here (Evening) and here (Day).

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