Simon Says, It's Open House

Simon de Pury, turning law and reason on its head, in front of Maurizio Cattelan's Frank and Jaime, 2002. Edition of 3. Estimated at $1-1.5 million. Photo credit:Kisa Lala

Let the drum-rolls begin -- Simon dePury, the market-savvy chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company, was at hand to christen the new Park Avenue location for the inaugural preview of the Part 1-Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The collection, entitled 'Carte Blanche,' curated by Phillipe Segalot, former international head of Christie's Contemporary Art, is scheduled for auction November 8, 2010, with a low-estimate of $80,000,000.

Richard Prince, Untitled (Cowboy) 1998-99.Ektacolor photograph. Edition of 2 plus artist proof. Estimated at $1-1.5 million

Phillips' move uptown to the new 25,559 square feet space at 450 Park Ave will extend their buyers' circle beyond the Meatpacking District, and bring them closer to their bidding rivals Sotheby's and Christie's. "The sale will be a game-changer in the way auctions are being prepared," said Simon de Pury.

Simon de Pury looking pleased in front of the inverted cops' of Maurizio Cattelan's Frank and Jaime. Photo credit: Kisa Lala

Left: Paul McCarthy, Mechanical Pig, 2005. Edition of 3 +1 AP. Estimate $2.5-3.5 million

Though the collection contains some gems, the higher-estimate values will test the market's demand for contemporary art, which in today's moody climate can turn south on a dime. Some of the highlights include Maurizio Cattelan's delightful roving robot Charlie, and Stephanie (commissioned by Stephanie Seymour's on-and-off again husband Peter Brant; a true trophy-wife's bust, the pride of any collector's), Koons' Caterpillar Ladder, Paul McCarthy's Mechanical Pig, worth its pork in gold, and Richard Prince, who is in the exclusive club of upper-tier artists whose photographs sell for over a $1 million.

Takashi Murakami, the poster child for the show is his own best salesman. Riding high on his Versailles exhibition, he currently commands high prices (listed estimate of $4-6million for Miss KO2), but his work, though astonishing at first, can quickly turn dreary on the twentieth reiteration. It's unfortunate for Warhol that his career ended before the Age of Reproduction fully took hold, because with the multiplicity of editions that abound, even Walter Benjamin would be baffled by the soaring and undiminished value of an 'original'.

But sometimes, a reproduction, as in the case of Cattelan's Stephanie, maybe a better bargain than its original.

Maurizio Cattelan, Stephanie, 2003. Edition of 3 + 1 AP Estimate: $1-1.5 million

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #153, 1985. Edition of 6. Estimate: $2-$3 million

View of Phillips de Pury's space at 450 Park Avenue with upper tier skyboxes for premium clients. Photo: Kiša Lala

For further information on sales: Phillips de Pury
Text: Kiša Lala