Spring art sales wrap at Phillips with Andy Warhol haul

Thu May 12, 2011 11:25pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spring art auctions ended on Thursday with another big Andy Warhol sale when "Liz #5" sold for $27 million at Phillips de Pury's $99 million contemporary art sale.

The pop artist's iconic portrait of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor went a long way toward the total for Phillips, the number-three auction house behind Sotheby's and Christie's, where Warhols also played a huge role this season.

"We're thrilled with the strong results ... (which were) more than double this time last year," said Phillips chairman Simon de Pury, who also served as auctioneer.

Other highlights included Warhol's collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat, "Third Eye," which fetched $7 million including commission, more than twice the high estimate and a record for a joint work by the two artists.

Warhol's "Flowers" sold for just over $8.1 million, while "Mao (10) went for $4 million, each clearing the low estimate.

The sale capped two weeks of mixed results, with wobbly Impressionist and modern sales, a strong result at Sotheby's sale of works from dealer Allan Stone's estate and a terrific total Wednesday when Christie's sold more than $300 million in contemporary and post-war art.

Marc Porter, Christie's Americas chairman, said the strong results "illustrate the global demand for works of art created by the broadest spectrum of artists and cultures."

"As the audience grows and prices increase, we expect superb consignments" later this year, Porter said.   Continued...