By the Numbers: A Breakdown of Results From Phillips’s London Modern and Contemporary Art Evening and Day Sales, June 2024

Get the stats behind the spin.

Auctioneer Henry Highley is selling George Condo's Green and Purple Head Composition (2018) at Phillips London modern and evening art sales on June 27, 2024. Image courtesy Phillips.

The clock at Phillips’s London headquarters on Berkeley Square seemed to be running backward on Thursday, the day of the house’s annual June modern and contemporary art sales. The evening sale took place at 3 p.m., and the day sale, of lower-priced work, followed immediately after.

For the second year in a row, Phillips effectively merged its day and evening sales, and at first glance, it seemed to have paid off. Thursday’s combined sale total of £13 million ($16.5 million) was up more than 44 percent from last year’s £9 million ($11.5 million) haul.

On closer inspection, things were not quite so rosy. Thursday’s sales offered 132 lots, excluding four withdrawals (by Kehinde Wiley, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Cristina Banban, and Stik, all from the day sale), a noticeable increase over last June’s 111 (when five lots were withdrawn), but the sell-through rate (excluding withdrawals) fell to 71 percent, from 84 percent last year.

Of the 23 lots offered in the evening sale, all but two were fresh to auction. Four hammered below their presale low estimates, including the second-best seller, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s 2022 triptych Minotaur to Matador. The work had a hammer price at £750,000 ($945,000) against a fees-free presale low estimate of £900,000 ($1.1 million). The work eventually sold for £952,500 ($1.2 million), including fees.

Camille Pissarro’s gouache on silk La Sieste aux champs (1893) was hammered at £160,000 ($201,600), below its presale low estimate of £180,000 ($227,715). Its price with fees, £203,200 ($256,032), was just above the £199,500 it achieved in 1999, when it sold at Christie’s London. (However, when measuring in U.S. dollars, yesterday’s result was nearly 20 percent off that earlier result, which converted to $314,817 at that time, when the pound was far stronger.)

Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s That your lovin’ makes it better (2021) drew strong international bidding, according to Olivia Thornton, Phillips’s head of Modern and contemporary art for Europe. The work hammered at £190,000 ($239,400) against a presale low estimate of £70,000 ($88,573). Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup (1986) was another success, the third-highest seller, going for $1 million with fees: more than four times the price it made at Sotheby’s London in 2003.

Below, a breakdown of results from the evening sale…

A childlike painting of a robot action figure

Robert Nava’s T-LC1 (2019) sold for £139,700 ($177,000) at Phillips. Courtesy Phillips.

Total Sales After Fees: £8,337,550 ($10,505,313)

Hammer Total: £6,565,000 ($8,271,900)

Top Seller: George Condo’s 2018 painting Green and Purple Head Composition. The work on linen was hammered at £800,000 ($1 million), surpassing its presale low estimate of £700,000 ($8.9 million). With fees, the work sold for £1 million ($1.28 million) to a bidder based in Michigan. The lot had a third-party guarantee.

Lots on Offer: 23

Lots Withdrawn: 0

Lots Sold: 21

Lots Bought In: 2

Sell-through Rate: 91 percent

Sell-through Rate Excluding Withdrawals: 91 percent

Presale Low Estimate: £6,710,000 ($8,490,028)

Presale Low Estimate After Withdrawals: £6,710,000 ($8,490,028)

Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate: –£145,000 (–$183,428)

Hammer Total vs. Presale Low Estimate (revised after withdrawals):–£145,000 (–$183,428)

Lots Guaranteed: 2

Lots With House Guarantees: 0

Lots With Third-Party Guarantees: 2

Total Low Estimate of Withdrawn Lots: $0 (none)

Total Low Estimate of Third-Party Guaranteed Lots: £1,000,000 ($1,265,022)

Quote of the Night: It was a safe and smooth sale, as auctioneer Henry Highley maintained a solid pace and kept the affair to one hour. However, toward the end, when Highley offered the last lot, Robert Nava’s canvas work T-LC1 (2019), he had a slip of the tongue and mispronounced Nava as Nara, like the last name of the superstar Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara. The slip-up perhaps hinted at the possible identity of the character depicted in T-LC1, which is a reminiscent of the original Gundam, the robot from the classic Japanese mecha anime franchise of the same name. However, the auction house’s catalogue described it as “an inventive, futuristic character, creating modern mythologies imbued with momentum and action.”

Next Sale Up: The house’s Modern and contemporary art day sale, which took place immediately after the evening sale.

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