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KAWS Mania marks the $108.1 M 20th Century sale at Phillips

The 20th Century and Contemporary art auction at Phillips concluded on Thursday on quite a great note. Closely following the success at Christie’s auction, the auction at Phillips managed to score an impressive $108.1 million. Compared to the previous year, where the total sale was just $88.5 million, this year was definitely an improvement. The event was marked by many personal records for artists, disappointment for some, and frenzy for works of KAWS.

Out of the 42 works put up for auction, 40 managed to find a buyer. Sean Scully’s Red Bar was sold $1.76 million, quite ahead of its estimate, and created a personal record for the artist. A similar record was set for Julie Curtiss, whose recent work Party Down crossed the pre-sale estimates by leaps and was sold for $400,000.

Philip Guston, Smoking II, 1973 , Phillips New York
Philip Guston’s Smoking II (1973)

The biggest winner of the evening was Jean-Michel Basquiat, who seems to be a star in most auctions these days. His 1981 work The Ring was sold for $15 million, exactly the upper pre-sale estimate. Philip Guston’s Smoking II, which entered the market after 37 years, was sold for $7.65 million. Andy Warhol too was a popular name in the evening, where his Late Four-Foot Flowers sold for $7.43 million.

Without a doubt, KAWS was particularly in demand at the sale at Phillips. His close-up depiction of a crazy SpongeBob SquarePants sold for $2.18 million, while his sculpture Final Days sold for $1.46 million. His shaped canvas UNTITLED sold for $1.52 million.

Ed Dolman, CEO of Phillips, termed the auction as “very solid and satisfactory”. This was the last auction to be held at Phillips, which would soon relocate to a new headquarters.