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Art Market Watch
May 15, 2006 

PHILLIPS CONTEMPORARY
DOES $29.5 MILLION

The May 11 evening contemporary art sale at Phillips, de Pury & Co. on West 15th Street in Chelsea was hot -- in more ways than one. "They need more ventilation in that room," exclaimed one art dealer. But the market-makers stuck it out, and the sale totaled $29,499,600 (with premium), with 74 of 76 lots finding buyers, or more than 97 percent. The final result was about $2,000,000 above the presale high estimate.

Phillips specializes in the young, and the sale featured works by Paul Pfeiffer (b. 1966), whose LCD vid of a transcendental basketball from 2000, John 3:16, in an edition of three, sold for $156,000 (est. $150,000-$200,000); Hernan Bas (b. 1978), the Miami goth painter who shows at Fredric Snitzer and Daniel Reich galleries, whose 2004 gouache-on-panel went for $90,000 (est. $40,000-$60,000); and Assume Vivid Astro Focus (b. 1968), who is now to be known as "avaf," apparently, and whose disco-installation of five works from 2004 went for $45,600 (est. $50,000-$70,000). All three prices were auction records for the artists.

But super prices were realized all around. A 1998 portrait by Karen Kilimnik of a young man who looks like Leonardo di Caprio sold for $198,000 (est. $80,000-$120,000), though it wasn't a new Kilimnik auction record -- that had been set the previous day at Christie's, when another portrait, slightly larger, sold for $273,600.

Piotr Uklanski's Skull, a large-scale black-and-white photograph of a skull formed by posing nudes -- an updated copy of a 1951 Philippe Halsman portrait of Salvador Dali with a similar human construction -- sold for $408,000 (est. $150,000-$200,000), a new auction record for the artist. A life-sized fiberglass cast of a sleeping clown by Ugo Rondinone, titled If There Were Anywhere But Desert. Thursday (2000), sold for $307,200 (est. $150,000-$200,000), also a new auction record for the artist.

Phillips' evening sale set new auction records for Tom Wesselman ($1,696,000), Peter Doig ($1,080,000), Wang Du ($329,600), Thomas Schutte ($307,200), Wilhelm Sasnal ($204,000), Huang Yong Ping ($168,000), Tatsuo Miyajima ($144,000), David Schnell ($144,000), Nobuyoshi Araki ($132,000) and Rirkrit Tiravanija ($48,000).

The Phillips day sale on May 12 totaled $11.7 million, with 77 percent of the lots finding buyers. A total of 26 new artists records were set during the auction.

$56.3 MILLION MORE FOR
SOTHEBY'S CONTEMPORARY

The day sale of contemporary art at Sotheby's New York on May 11, 2006, totaled $56,348,201, almost double the $23.8 million presale high estimate. Overall, 384 of the 437 lots sold, or almost 88 percent. Among the top lots was Raymond Pettibon's Self Portrait as Goofy-Foot (2000), a large (for Pettibon -- 80 x 79 in.) acrylic-on-paper painting of a surfer riding a giant wave, which sold for an incredible $744,000 (est. $70,000-$90,000), a new record for the artist at auction. The two-day total for contemporary art at Sotheby's New York stands at $185,100,200 (with premium).

GOOD SALES AT "KUSTOM KULTURE" AUCTION
The sale of the Brucker Collection of "Kustom Kulture" art and memorabilia at RM Auctions in Los Angeles on May 13, 2006 [see Art Market Watch, May 8, 2006] exceeded expectations, with many lots soaring above their estimates. The personal paint box of legendary car-customizer Von Dutch (1929-92) sold for $310,500 (est. $40,000-$60,000). Another top lot was a handcrafted metal sign featuring Von Dutch's trademark flying eyeball design and the slogan, "Originator of Modern Pin Striping," which sold for $149,500, more than eight times the presale high estimate. Robert Williams' 1968 painting, In the Land of Retinal Delights, sold for $184,000, a new auction record for a work by the artist.


contact wrobinson @ artnet.com