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.
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.
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