Contemporary Sales at Sotheby’s and Phillips in London. How it was?


The fireworks of the evening sales in London this week wrapped last night with the 20th-century and contemporary art evening sale at Phillips. The equivalent sale went down at Sotheby’s the night prior. (Christie’s opted to not hold a postwar and contemporary sale in London after Art Basel this year.) The Phillips sale is still going strong four hours in, but there’s already some interesting sales and passes to look at. Here are some of the highlights from the day sales at the two houses.


  • An untitled Carol Rama painting from 1966 that was estimated to sell for £5,000 to £7,000 ended up going for £30,000 (about $39,000), nearly five times that high estimate.
  • Wolfgang Tillmans is still riding his exhibition-buoyed market to solid sales—LIGHTER GREEN/RED III (2009) sold for £81,250 ($106,000), well over double its high estimate.
  • Meanwhile, one of the sale’s star lots, the late Lucien Freud’s Portrait of a Girl (Alexi), 2005, failed to find a buyer.
  • Jenny Holzer’s TRUISMS (1977–79), an LED work that is the fourth in an edition of four, had a high estimate of £35,000 ($45,500). It sold for £175,000 ($227,500), five times the upper mark.
  • And a delightful Jonas Wood tennis painting went for well over the high estimate, selling for £118,750 ($154,000).


  • A collaborative piece made by Joe Bradley and Dan Colen, Shitface (2007), failed to find a buyer. The night before, at Phillips, a Joe Bradley from 2009 was one of only two lots to not sell.
  • Jonas Wood’s B-ball 9 (2008) only had a high estimate of £7,000 but ended up going for a solid £25,000 ($32,500).
  • Lucien Smith’s Boys Don’t Cry (2012), one of the works in his “Rain Paintings” series, sold at the Phillips Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London in July 2014 for £116,500 ($150,000). Three years later, the same work sold at the day sale for £27,000 ($35,750).
  • Harold Ancart’s market got a shot of adrenaline last November during the day sale at Christie’s in New York, when one of his works, estimated to sell for at most $120,000, went for an astonishing $750,500. His hot streak continued today at Phillips when Untitled (Full Moon in the Deep Forest), 2013, which was supposed to sell for a maximum of £50,000 went for £112,500 ($146,000).
  • And A.R. Penck’s Landung auf einem Planeten (1983) sold for £281,000 ($365,000)—three times its high estimate of £90,000 ($117,000).


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