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Christopher Wool
Phillips, de Pury & Co.
May 13, 2004

Bridget Riley

Andy Warhol

Jorge Pardos installation at Lever House in Manhattan

The grand staircase to the new Tony Shafrazi Gallery on West 26th Street in Manhattan

Art Market Watch

The energized contemporary art market continued to strut its stuff at Phillips, de Pury & Co. in New York last night, May 13, 2004. The downtown auction house sold 59 of 63 lots offered, or more than 90 percent, for a total of $17,768,800. The total is above the presale high estimate of $17,470,000 and includes the auction-house premium of 20 percent on the first $100,000 and 12 percent of the rest.

Phillips evening total compares modestly to those of Christies on May 11 ($102 million) and Sothebys on May 12 ($64.7 million). Still, Phillips sale set 10 new artists records, including Marlene Dumas ($993,600), Christopher Wool ($848,000, for a mural-sized five panel piece reading Run Dog Run Dog Run), Mike Kelley ($176,000), Doug Aitken ($114,000, for the video installation Electric Earth), Rosemarie Trockel ($102,000) and Arturo Herrera ($57,600).

The bidding was fast and furious, and avid auctioneer Simon de Pury squeezed every last dime out of the bidders, urging tapped-out art collectors to try one more! Just try it!.

Bridget Rileys Serif (1964), a diamond-shaped Op painting of variously sized horizontal black lines, sold for a record $792,000, to Susan Dunn of PaceWildenstein, who beat out several telephone bidders. Riley is now fourth in the auction list of living British artists, following Lucian Freud ($5.8 million), David Hockney ($1.9 million) and Damien Hirst ($1.2 million).

The new record for Richard Prince was set for My Name (1987), a Brice Marden-gray joke painting (I never had a penny to my name. So I changed my name), which sold for $747,200, well above its presale high estimate of $200,000. A few minutes later, Princes 1999 photograph Cowboy was bought for $265,600, apparently by PaceWildensteins Susan Dunn. According to gallery insiders, PaceWildenstein recently tried and failed to woo Prince away from his longtime dealer, Barbara Gladstone -- but is clearly interested in his work all the same.

The new auction record for reformed yBa sculptor Marc Quinn was set when Selma Mustajbasic (2000), a charming marble from an edition of three of a reclining nude (with a missing right leg below the knee), sold for $102,000. The result, however, is less than the $120,000 list price for similar works at his recent show at the Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea.

Several top lots were bought by Swiss art dealer Andrea Caratsch, who was sitting in the back of the crowded room on the outside aisle. He bought the sales top lot, Jean-Michel Basquiats Blue Heads (1983), for $2,024,000, as well as the top Andy Warhol work in the sale, the somber, minimalist Crosses (1982) for $792,000, and the Maurizio Cattelan plastic and neon sign Untitled (Bar) (1997) for $299,200. Caratsch is partner with de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg in their Geneva gallery, though he was not necessarily bidding in that capacity, of course.

New York dealer David Zwirner was the winning bidder for Daniel Richters Mistress of Puppets (2002) -- a trippy painting of several nude figures gathered around a tree in the middle of the night -- buying it for $81,600, just above the works presale high estimate. The German artists first solo exhibition in New York, titled The Morning After, is on view at Zwirners Manhattan gallery, May 10-June 19, 2004 -- and all the paintings had supposedly been sold before the show even opened.

Real estate magnate Aby Rosen won Jeff Koons Encased Five Rows, a grid of glass shelves holding store-ready boxes containing 24 basketballs and six soccer balls that is dated 1983-93. The price was $433,600, well above the presale high estimate of $200,000. As it happened, following the sale Rosen hosted a gala reception on the third-floor terrace of one of his properties, the landmark Lever House on Park Avenue and 54th Street, to celebrate a new lobby installation there of glass light sculptures by Jorge Pardo.

Another winning bidder was New York dealer Tony Shafrazi, who only last week opened his spacious new gallery on the second floor of 544 West 26th Street in Chelsea with a show of works by Francis Bacon, Basquiat and Pablo Picasso. He won Keith Harings untitled large (ca. 9 x 9 ft.) 1982 green and purple painting on a yellow vinyl tarp for $478,400. During Harings lifetime, Shafrazi was his New York dealer, and was preparing a memorial exhibition of the artists work after his death in 1990 until the estate abruptly (and inexplicably) transferred its allegiance to Andre Emmerich Gallery, which was then known for exhibiting Color Field abstraction.

Curiously, one of two lots withdrawn before the sale began was Carl Andres Corduroy Road (lot 46), a 1973 row of 23 corroded sheet metal strips laid side-by-side on the floor. The work, to which Phillips gave a $150,000-$200,000 presale estimate, is also illustrated in the new catalogue for Art 35 Basel on the page of Galerie Tanit in Munich.

For complete, illustrated results, consult Artnet's signature Fine Art Auctions Results