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Nov. 14, 2008 

Phillips de Pury & Co. held its evening contemporary art sale on Nov. 13, 2008, totaling $9,608,700 (including premium), with 30 of 51 lots finding buyers, or almost 59 percent. The total presale estimate was $23 million-$32 million. The lots were bright and attractive -- it’s the economy that looks dismal.

Top lots included a Donald Judd stack piece, Untitled (77/23 -- Bernstein), which sold for $3,218,500, below its presale low estimate of $4 million, and Anish Kapoor’s bright blue, lozenge-shaped Mirror (2003), which sold for $782,500, close to the presale high estimate of $700,000.

A small (36 x 27 in.) orange perspectival abstraction from 2002 by Mark Grotjahn sold for $458,500, near its presale low estimate of $450,000.

Terence Koh’s The Road to the Winterland of My Discontent, I Know Not Where I Lead (2007), a row of black bronze casts of the artist’s forearm, in the positions of the arms of the disciples in Leonardo’s Last Supper, sold for $122,500 (est. $80,000-$120,000). The buyer, according to the Baer Faxt, was Henry Buhl, the investment banker who exhibited his extensive collection of photographs of hands at the Guggenheim Museum in 2004.

New auction records were set for works by Rachel Harrison ($61,250), Wade Guyton ($133,250) and Isa Genzken ($314,500).

Unsold lots included a Chrisopher Wool gray smudge painting (est. $300,000-$400,000), a Richard Prince Tire Planter (est. $120,000-$180,000), a blurry target painting by Ugo Rondinone (est. $120,000-$180,000), an Anselm Reyle foil and plastic stripe painting (est. $300,000-$400,000), a John Currin nude of a middle-aged woman ($500,000-$700,000) and a 20-foot-long skull-spin painting by Damien Hirst (est. $3 million-$4 million).

The day sales of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s New York on Nov. 13, 2008, totaled $39,084,550. The day sales were about 62 percent sold by lot, with 225 of 365 lots finding buyers. With the evening-sale total included, Christie’s totaled $152.7 million for its three contemporary art sales.

Top lots included Richard Diebenkorn’s ham-handed Landscape with Figure (1956) -- the figure is a tree shaped like the card-suit club -- which sold for $2,546,500 to a U.S. private collector, below the presale low estimate of $3 million, and Damien Hirst’s Afterworld (2007), a "rose window" painting made of butterfly wings, sold for $902,500, just at its presale low estimate of $900,000.

Sherrie Levine’s 1991 golden bronze version of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain went for $446,500, considerably more than the presale high estimate of $200,000. However, another version of the work -- which was made in an edition of six -- sold in May for $713,000.

Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 ink drawing of a hot dog, measuring about 14 x 24 in., sold for $200,500, considerably more than its presale high estimate of $150,000.

Dana Schutz’s 73 x 78 in. Gravity Fanatic, a comical painting that was originally exhibited at Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin in 2005, sold for $278,500, at the top end of its presale estimate of $150,000-$250,000.

Kristin Baker’s Disques of Newton in Daytona (2004), a 20th-century racetrack abstraction done in her trademark decoupage technique, first exhibited at Deitch Projects in New York, sold for $104,500 (est. $80,000-$120,000).

Sotheby’s New York day sale of contemporary and post-war art on Nov. 12, 2008, totaled $35,808,600, with 223 of 412 lots finding buyers, or 54 percent by lot.

Top lots included works by Gerhard Richter ($1,986,500), Andy Warhol ($1,258,500) and Ed Ruscha, whose Yip Yip (1994), a silhouette painting of a howling coyote, sold for $1,070,500 (est. $1.5 million-$2 million).

A Claes Oldenburg sculpture of a plaster fried egg in an actual frying pan, made in 1961 and exhibited in his famous "Store" installation in Manhattan, sold for $52,500 (est. $40,000-$60,000).

Marilyn Minter’s 2002 enamel-on-aluminum painting of a close-up of a glamour girl’s closed eye sold for $122,500 (est. $100,000-$150,000).

A Banksy stencil-on-canvas from 2002 of Lenin on roller skates sold for $80,500 (est. $60,000-$80,000).

The buyer’s premium is 25 percent of the first $50,000, 20 percent of any amount up to $1 million, and 12 percent on anything above that.

For complete, illustrated results, see Artnet’s signature Fine Art Auctions Report.

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