Jean-Michel Basquiat's 1981 painting sold for $16.3 million at Phillips de Pury's contemporary-art auction last night, setting a record for the late Neo-expressionist painter. Estimated a price between $8 million and $12 million for the 6-by-4-foot canvas, the painting three telephone bidders but no one in the midtown Manhattan sales room where lots of seats were empty.
The painting, one of 11 in the sale guaranteed to sell, was the top lot of an auction that totaled $86.9 million, within the expected range of $75.9 million to $110.7 million. Of the 44 lots, nine failed to sell, including pieces by Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly and Richard Prince.
Owned by the Russian retailer Mercury Group, the Phillips sale was the last of five evening auctions that produced records, including a $120 million Munch and an $87 million Rothko.
Two of Phillips's three auction records were achieved in the last few minutes.
Bloomberg also reported a vibrant 10-by-6.5-foot painting by Dana Schutz titled "Death Comes to Us All" (2003) sold for $482,500, surpassing its high estimate and the Brooklyn artist’s previous auction record of $288,000, set in May 2007.
Willem de Kooning's 1975 painting "Untitled VI" sold for $12.4 million, within the expected range of $10 million to $15 million. The guaranteed lot last sold at auction for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s (BID) in May 2000.