Auction Results: Contemporary Art, Parts I and II, May 12 and 13, 2011 @Phillips

Phillips was resoundingly bested by its two larger rivals in terms of photography results in the Spring Contemporary Art season. Only 3 out of the top 9 photo lots in these sales found buyers and the Total Sale Proceeds missed the Low end of the range by a meaningful margin. With Sotheby’s at roughly $10M and Christie’s at roughly $12M for photo proceeds, Phillips tally at $1.5M looks pretty paltry indeed.

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

Total Lots: 50
Pre Sale Low Total Estimate: $2270000
Pre Sale High Total Estimate: $3338000
Total Lots Sold: 39
Total Lots Bought In: 11
Buy In %: 22.00%
Total Sale Proceeds: $1508975
Here is the breakdown (using the Low, Mid, and High definitions from the preview post, here):

Low Total Lots: 12
Low Sold: 10
Low Bought In: 2
Buy In %: 16.67%
Total Low Estimate: $86000
Total Low Sold: $100375
Mid Total Lots: 26
Mid Sold: 23
Mid Bought In: 3
Buy In %: 11.54%
Total Mid Estimate: $652000
Total Mid Sold: $654100
High Total Lots: 12
High Sold: 6
High Bought In: 6
Buy In %: 50.00%
Total High Estimate: $2600000
Total High Sold: $754500

The top photography lot by High estimate was lot 45, Andreas Gursky, Brasalia Plenarsaal II, 1994, at $500000-700000; it did not sell. The top outcome of the sales was lot 43, Cindy Sherman, Untitled #422, 2004, at $350500.

89.74% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range. There were a total of 4 surprises in these sales (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate):

Lot 246, Vik Muniz, After Yves Klein (Pictures of Color), 2001, at $56250 (image at right, top, via Phillips)
Lot 248, Vik Muniz, Tackle (Pictures of Chocolate), 2001, at $84100
Lot 249, Sharon Core, Various Cakes, 2004 at $27500 (image at right, bottom, via Phillips)
Lot 396, Paul McCarthy, Dick & Broom, 1997, at $12500
Complete lot by lot results can be found here (Part I) and here (Part II).

Phillips De Pury & Company
450 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022

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Read more about: Sharon Core, Vik Muniz, Phillips ~ 450 Park


  1. J. Wesley Brown /

    Amazing – Sharon Core takes a photo that's a copy of a Wayne Thiebaud painting and then it sells for $27,500. I hope the buyer's wishing they'd had $4,000 or so (probably less even) to buy the Thiebaud painting in 1981 instead.

  2. M. Porter /

    Geez. When photographers attack other photographers things get a little nasty! J. Wesley Brown should have considered his 'comment' more carefully before publishing it because it makes no sense at all. If he is expressing envy, well then we read him loud and clear.

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