In a striking display of the global art market's vigor, Phillips' May sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art reached a staggering total of $108.3 million. The evening sale alone amassed $70 million, showcasing the high demand for iconic works from renowned artists like Banksy, Pablo Picasso, and Roy Lichtenstein. Notable sales also included pieces from rising artists Noah Davis and Caroline Walker, further emphasizing the diverse range of sought-after art.
The auction's financial performance was impressive, with the total sales for the week amounting to $108,265,815 (£86,703,560/€99,895,667). The evening sale significantly contributed to this total, pulling in $69,543,100 (£55,704,023/€64,153,510). Out of the 37 lots offered, 33 were sold, marking an impressive 89% success rate by lot and 95% by value.
Phillips' senior executives, Jean-Paul Engelen, President Americas, and Robert Manley, Deputy Chairman Worldwide Co-Heads of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, highlighted the auction's success. One of the standout moments was a 12-minute bidding war for Noah Davis’ Untitled, which sold for $990,600, representing the second-highest price ever achieved for the artist at auction. Banksy’s Banksquiat. Boy and Dog in Stop and Search also drew significant attention, fetching a cool $9.7 million from a telephone bidder. Manley and Engelen pointed out that 80% of the works in the evening sale had never been sold at auction before, a testament to Phillips' unique approach to their sales.
The auction attracted bidders from 30 countries, demonstrating the far-reaching appeal of the artworks on offer and the robust strength of the global art market. This international participation underscores the sustained demand for high-quality art, despite the economic challenges faced by other sectors.
Among the top lots, Banksy's Banksquiat. Boy and Dog in Stop and Search led the way, selling for $9,724,500. It was closely followed by Pablo Picasso's Tête de femme au chignon at $7,320,000, and Roy Lichtenstein's Girl in Mirror, which fetched $5,505,000. Works by Mark Grotjahn and Robert Ryman also featured in the top five, selling for $4,295,000 and $3,811,000 respectively.
For those tracking the global economic indicators, the exchange rate on 17 May 2023 was US$1 = £0.8010, €0.9225, HK$7.8315.
This successful sale stands as a testament to the resilience and vibrancy of the global art market, and Phillips' role within it, offering an optimistic outlook for future sales in the world of contemporary art.