After Action Report: Christie's Evening & Phillips Day

Christie's totals $80 million for 20th/21st Century Evening Sale & Phillips's Day sale is $12.3 million

LiveArt After Action Report: Christie’s 20th/21st: London Evening Sale

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Total: £72,533,850 with 100% sold (47/47 + 3 lots withdrawn)
Dollar Total: $80,517,278
Composition of Results: 42% above/ 32% within/ 26% below estimates 
Aggregate Low Estimate: £40,495,000
Aggregate Hammer: £60,345,000
Hammer Ratio: 1.49
Average Lot Value: $1.7 million


So much for a weakening market: It’s getting old to talk about the expectations of a weakening market but Christie’s really put off that talk with today’s sale. The sale was obviously very well managed with a 100% sell-through rate. The consignors who had to face facts either withdrew or lowered their reserves. The weak pound surely helped and the general mood around London is that lots of folks are in town and in the mood to buy. 

Not everyone was willing to buy on a jpeg: One theory about the buoyant mood in London is that many collectors finally feel they can travel. These buyers need to see the works before they decide to buy so there is pent up demand as these collectors feel like they’re behind. 

The Top Lots

Only three of the top ten works outperformed estimates. One of those was Tracey Emin’s charity sale. David Hockney’s Early Morning, Sainte-Maxime from 1969 sold for more than 2.5 times the £7m estimate. The premium total was just shy of $23.2 million.

Gerhard Richter’s Cloud Study from 1971 sold for a strong $12.39 million which, the folks at Sotheby’s point out, is a little less than the $13.6 million paid for a similar sized cloud study they sold at the end of June. The totals in GBP were almost identical nicely illustrating the 10% discount collectors are getting this week. 

Works by Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, and Glenn Brown failed to reach their estimates. But that result didn’t really shock anyone. 

Works by Bridget Riley, Lucio Fontana and a Richter abstract were all sold after decent bidding and above the estimate.  

Lots to Watch

Ever since Christina Quarles's market exploded to the upside with a $4.5 million sale in May, market participants have been looking for some indication of whether that price was an anomaly or indicator. Since that sale, the artist has debuted new work at Hauser + Wirth where prices are said to be in the seven figures. Two sales in September at the old high-water mark of $600,000 could be read either way, Quarles's market had not moved or that her old record price was now a market floor. "Even in tha Evenin'" selling for $951,103 doesn't solve the question but it does provide another price above the $600k level, though far from the new high at $4.5m. The market would like to see stronger seven-figure prices. But given the size and quality of this last work, it will have to settle for Quarles's slight momentum. 

After nearly a year, demand for Scott Kahn’s work has not diminished especially among Asian collectors. Christie’s “secret agent” Xin Li was so impatient with the bidding on Kahn’s Croquet that she came over the top of a £350,000 bid with a cool £500,000. The gambit didn’t work. The lot went to another Christie’s rep from Asia. 

Xin Li was also bidding on the Ernie Barnes tucked at the back of the sale that made $615,420.

Derek Fordjour’s Three Point Bend sold for $461,565 making it the second highest price achieved for the artist’s work at auction. All four of the artist’s top four prices are from auctions this year.

Jordy Kerwick’s untitled painting carried a very low £40,000 estimate but made the artist’s 12th highest price auction. 

Ann Craven first burst into wider market consciousness when Doris Amman’s Craven made an astonishing $680,400. The $265,749 paid during Christie’s sale fills in another six-figure price for the artist at auction. 

The Nicolas Party landscape from 2016 made the artist’s 9th highest price when it was bid to more than two times the estimate for a final premium price of $1,645,116.


LiveArt After Action Report: Phillips London Day Sale

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Total: £11,136,258 with 82% sold (127/155 + 6 lots withdrawn)
Dollar Total: $12,361,901
Composition of Results: 35% above | 38% within | 27% below estimates 
Aggregate Low Estimate: £8,582,000
Aggregate Hammer: £8,838,300
Hammer Ratio: 1.03
Average Lot Value: $97,338

If you were looking for weakness: Well, you found a little here but, to be honest, the 82% sell-through rate for a day sale of Contemporary art and a hammer ratio above 1, even ever so slightly above 1, is a sign of a slowing market but not a negative one. 

The mix of artists continues: There were 44 different artists bid above the estimates in Phillips Day sale. Some newer names like Raghav Babbar, Albert Willem, Kyle Vu-Dunn, Celeste Rapone, Connor Brothers, Andres Valencia, were among the artists most bid upon. Familiar names like Wolfgang Tillmans, Gerhard Richter, Flora Yukhnovich, and Harold Ancart were also among the dynamic lots. 

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