The contemporary art auction at Phillips de Pury tonight in New York set a new world record for a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Untitled from 1981 sold for $16,322,500 including premiums to beat the previous record of $14.6 million set in 2007. The work went to a private bidder.
“We are very happy,” said Simon de Pury, the chairman of the auction house who led the auction tonight. He said he was not surprised about the sale. “I thought it was a very solid sale. We are pleased.”
All told, Phillips evening sale culled $86,897,500 to hit between the $75 million – $110 million estimated totals for the night. That total was down from $94,823,000 last year but up considerably from $17,130,000 in 2010.
Top sellers of the night besides the Basquiat wereUntitled VI by Willem de Kooning, which sold for $12,402,500; Untitled (Bolsena) by Cy Twombly for $6,242,500; Brushstroke Nude by Roy Lichtenstein for $5,458,500; and two by Andy Warhol: Mao($10,386,500) and Gun ($7,026,500). Each of the top 10 lots sold went for more than $2.4 million including buyers premiums.
The mood tonight was lively if not as electrifying as a certain diamond auction at Christie’s late last year. Women in Louboutin shoes and men with the long, artfully coiffed hair of European royalty milled around drinking champagne downstairs in the lobby before the sale started. Later in the main room they clapped appreciatively when the Basquiat sold. Most of the buyers were longtime art patrons, according to Michael McGinnis, Phillips’ worldwide head of contemporary art. Bidders from Russia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East are especially strong this year, he said.
“I think they are a consistent part of the market, no question,” McGinnis said. “People know what they’re doing. They’re very well educated. They’re very well advised and don’t jump unless they’re confident.” (cont…Forbes.com)