Phillips Will Sell a Pop-Art Trove Worth an Estimated $60 Million, One of the Largest Consignments in Its History
The Fiterman collection includes heavyweight works by David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol.
Phillips has secured one of the most valuable consignments in its history: 95 works from the collection of Minneapolis entrepreneur Miles Fiterman and his wife Shirley. It’s a big coup for the auction house: Together, the works by American art titans Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and others are expected to realize more than $60 million. The haul will be offered across a series of sales in New York, London, and Hong Kong.
“This is the next chapter in our evolution into a major global competitor,” Robert Manley, Phillips’s worldwide co-head of 20th century and contemporary art, told artnet News. The auction house has historically lagged far behind the Big Two, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, in terms of total sales, but it has posted striking gains in recent years. Last year, it recorded the highest total in its 220-year history.
“We’re trying to re-envision what Phillips can be,” Manley added. “Phillips has long been considered this great place to sell younger contemporary artists. That perception is frankly not totally accurate. We want to be a 20th- and 21st-century company.”
Phillips won the consignment after the three major houses made their respective pitches to the family, Manley said. Miles died in 2004, while Shirley still lives with much of the collection they amassed together. (Christie’s, where Manley worked before joining Phillips, sold several works owned by the couple in late 2015, making Phillips’s win of the consignment all the more notable.)
The top lot of the collection is Lichtenstein’s Horse and Rider (1976), part of a group of works the artist made based on Futurist painting. It has an estimate of $7 million to $10 million. Manley confirmed there is a financial guarantee in place for the entire collection; so far, it has been secured by the auction house itself, but Manley did not rule out the possibility of a third-party arrangement being made ahead of the sales.
With the Whitney Museum’s current Warhol retrospective stoking demand and interest, Phillips will offer Two Coke Bottles (1962), which carries an estimate of $2 million to $3 million; 9 Flowers (1964), estimated at $3 million to $4 million; and the drawing Soup Can (1962), expected to sell for between $700,000 and $1 million. The latter work was acquired from art dealer Gordon Locksley, who introduced the Fitermans to Warhol when the artist first visited Minneapolis in the 1960s, igniting a longstanding friendship.
Miles was a businessman from Minneapolis who grew his local lumber business into a national housing company after World War II. The Fitermans developed their collection, which has a strong focus on Pop art, from the early 1960s onward. The couple often acquired important works soon after they were created, including Hockney’s Study for Parade (1981), Donald Judd’s Untitled (1970), and Warhol’s portrait of David Hockney, created in 1974.
The Fiterman collection will go on display at Phillips’s future address, the so-called Park Avenue Cube, a white-glass box on 56th Street and Park Avenue that is just a block south of the auction house’s current headquarters on 57th Street.
Manley said Phillips experts worked closely with the Fiterman family to organize the sale, taking advantage of the depth of their holdings of work by individual artists but also factoring in the market’s current headwinds. “Being entrusted with a private collection of this magnitude underscores the extraordinary momentum Phillips has experience in the last two years,” Manley said.
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