Thursday, March 30, 2023
HomeLife StyleBasquiat Tops Phillips Contemporary Sale at $85 Million

Basquiat Tops Phillips Contemporary Sale at $85 Million

Weyant, 27, is represented by the mega-dealer Larry Gagosian, whom she is dating. Evoking the psychological complexities of being a young woman in the 21st century with the technical precision of a 17th-century Old Master, Weyant’s paintings currently top many collectors’ wish lists.

(Christie’s example sold last week for $1.5 million to an Asian bidder. Phillips’s Weyant, a meticulous still-life titled “Buffet II,” dating from 2021, took in $731,000. It had been estimated at $100,000-$150,000.)

Experts say that the current huge discrepancies between “primary market” prices in galleries and “secondary market” auction resales for works by in-demand artists have been fueled by a global influx of wealthy young collectors, particularly in Asia, who follow the careers of emerging names on Instagram but who have no way of getting to the front of dealers’ waiting lists. Bidding at a public auction gives them access to the names they want, even if it means paying what seem to be, to outsiders, irrational prices.

“There’s a new generation of collectors who can’t afford a $50 million Picasso, but who can spend $5 million on a young artist they think will stand the test of time,” said Wendy Cromwell, a New York-based art adviser. Cromwell added that she had bought Weyant paintings from other galleries for less than $30,000, before the artist’s representation with Blum & Poe.

Social media being the echo chamber it is, would-be auction buyers tend to pursue the same names of the moment. Phillips, like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, also included hard-to-source works by Shara Hughes, Matthew Wong and María Berrío. “The Not Dark Dark Spots,” a typically dreamlike landscapes by Hughes from 2017, took $1.6 million after seven minutes of competition. It had carried a low estimate of $300,000. An exuberant, large-scale collage by Berrío, a New York-based Colombian artist, soared to $998,000. A vision of fin-de-siècle women reclining in an interior filled with flowers and rabbits, “Burrows of the Yellow” dated from 2013 and had a low estimate of $400,000.

A newcomer to watch was the Brooklyn-based female figurative painter Robin F. Williams, who has 108,000 followers on Instagram but whose works had hitherto not sold at auction for more than $40,000.

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