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Mar. 10, 2009 

The "Under the Influence" sale held at Phillips de Pury & Co. on West 15th Street in Manhattanís Chelsea art district on Monday, Mar. 9, 2009 -- at the tail end of Armory Week 2009 -- totaled a modest $1,617,688 (including premium), with almost 52 percent of the 195 lots offered finding buyers. It was a day for beginning collectors, as many works went for under $10,000, or even $5,000. Still, as has been the practice at the boutique auction house, several of the lots were by artists new to the auction market, and as a consequence the sale set auction records for 21 artists.

The top lot, and a new artistís record, was Kelly Walkerís I See a Teddy Roosevelt-Shaped Thing (2002), a large wall-hung Rorschach design made of two sheets of colored cut plastic that was originally shown at Paula Cooper Gallery in the fall of 2003. It sold for $146,500, above the presale high estimate of $120,000. Walker is one of several new painters whose graphic, postmodernist work is in high demand among collectors; his former auction record, $57,600, was set at Christieís in 2007.

Other top lots in the sale included Mark Handforthís Bearded Snake (2005), a sinuous strip of heavy, spray-painted rebar with a lit candle on the end (acquired for $20,000, a market price, at a benefit exhibition at White Columns only ten months ago), which sold for $116,500, and the late Canadian artist Paterson Ewenís diagrammatic landscape, Artesian Well (1988), which went for $98,500. The saleís two works by Damien Hirst, a gaily painted skull and a small wall cabinet of pills, both sold in the top ten, for $80,500 and $62,500, respectively.

Among the artists seeing new auction records for their works are Dike Blair ($10,000), Martin Boyce ($18,750), Nancy Drew ($12,000), Joanne Greenbaum ($8,750), Russell Young ($27,500), Daze ($5,625), Luis Gispert ($5,000) and Rita McBride ($10,625). Well, itís a start.

The buyerís premium is 25 percent on the first $50,000, 20 percent on proceeds between $50,000 and $1,000,000, and 12 percent on anything above $1,000,000.

For illustrated results, see Artnetís signature Fine Art Auction Database.

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