Auction Watch: Day Sale Highlights From Phillips And Christie's
March 2024 Marquee Sales

Keep It Real by Banksy - Christie's 2024Image © Christie's / Keep It Real © Banksy 2002
Joe Syer

Joe Syer, Co-Founder & Specialist[email protected]

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The March 2024 marquee auction roundup in London concluded with the day sales at Phillips and Christie's. Although Phillips' sale fell short of the presale estimate, with several high-value lots remaining unsold, there was robust bidding on works by newer artists like Danica Lundy, Salvo, and Rachel Jones, indicating interest in a newer market segment. Christie's day sale outperformed expectations, much like the evening sale, surpassing the presale estimate and exceeding the previous year's performance. This could be attributed to Christie's curated selection of works featuring many blue chip artists including Banksy, Alex Katz, STIK, Keith Haring, and others.

In this auction report, we present a summary of Phillips' & Christie's London day sales. Don't miss our Sotheby's, Phillips and Christie's evening sale reports.

PHILLIPS DAY SALE MARCH 2024

PHILLIPS 20TH CENTURY & CONTEMPORARY ART DAY SALE - 08/3

Presale estimate: £6,619,000 - £9,704,000

Sales Total Hammer: £5,192,000

-22% below the low presale estimate

Sell-through rate: 75%

  1. Above: 23% (31)
  2. Within: 26% (35)
  3. Below: 25% (33)
  4. Unsold: 24% (32)

Analysis of Phillips Day Sale: The Numbers

The Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale commenced on March 8th, presenting a collection of 135 lots, with four withdrawals. Initially estimated at £6.6 million, the final hammer price fell short by 22%, totaling £5.1 million, achieving a sell-through rate of 75%, indicating that three-quarters of the lots found buyers. In an exceptionally rare occurrence, an equal distribution was observed among lots selling above, within, below, and remaining unsold, suggesting an unpredictable outcome for each artwork. This anomaly could stems from various factors, including inconsistent bidder behaviour, market dynamics, or the characteristics of the artworks themselves.

In comparison to the previous year's March 2023 sale, Phillips experienced a significant 47% decline in hammer price. The notable performance of the 2023 day sale was propelled by a higher number of lots sold, with 181 lots finding buyers, 39% of which exceeded their high estimates. In this years sale, despite hammering below the presale estimate, the star lot was Irish Girl (2002) an oil on canvas by George Condo selling for £300,000 hammer and £381,000 with fees. While a selection of works by renowned blue chip names were presented, four works with the highest estimated values, including a Banksy canvas and a Damien Hirst sculpture, were withdrawn ultimatly impacting the sales overall performance.

Here are the highlights:



Fantastic To Feel Beautiful Again by Tracey Emin - MyArtBrokerImage © Phillips / Fantastic To Feel Beautiful Again © Tracey Emin 1997

Tracey Emin

Three works by Tracey Emin were presented in the sale, among which a recent canvas and a neon sign garnered notable attention. I Held You in My Hand, created in 2021, showcases Emin's mature painting style and developmental journey as an artist. This work achieved a solid performance, hammering within estimates at £45,000 and realising £57,150 with fees, marking its auction debut. Additionally, Emin's iconic neon text-based artwork, Fantastic To Feel Beautiful Again (1997), fetched impressive results, hammering at £110,000, surpassing its high presale estimate, and achieving £139,700 with fees. This sale set a new auction record, surpassing the previous blue edition sale in 2018 (£93,750) and the last sale of the same pink edition in 2009 (£42,050), showcasing substantial appreciation and value growth in Emin's neon works.

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Ladies And Gentlemen (Wilhelmina Ross) by Andy Warhol - PhillipsImage © Phillips / Ladies And Gentlemen (Wilhelmina Ross) © Andy Warhol 1975
Despite being less prominent than other Warhol works, this series holds immense socio-cultural relevance, shedding light on a marginalised segment within the queer community.

Andy Warhol

Several rare Andy Warhol pieces were featured and successfully sold during the auction. The most valuable and captivating among them was Ladies And Gentlemen (Wilhelmina Ross) from 1975. This artwork belongs to Warhol’s lesser-known series, Ladies & Gentlemen, which gained significant attention in the print market of 2023. Despite being less prominent than other Warhol works, this series holds immense socio-cultural relevance, shedding light on a marginalised segment within the queer community. While prints from this series experienced a surge in both volume and value appreciation in 2023, paintings from the series are seldom seen in the market. Although hammering below its estimate, this work still achieved a noteworthy sale, hammering at £110,000 and realising £139,700 with fees.

Other Warhol works included a diamond dust Gun from 1981, which hammered at £45,000 and achieving £57,150 with fees. Another piece, Muratti Ambassador Cigarettes (1984), a resale work, hammered above its presale high estimate at £25,000 and realised £31,750 with fees.

Explore our Andy Warhol Investment Guide for 2024 to learn more about his print market performance.

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Untitled by Keith Haring - MyArtBroker Image © Christie's / Untitled © Keith Haring 1984

CHRISTIE’S POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART DAY SALE - 09/3

Presale estimate: £10,104,500 - £14,626,500

Sales Total Hammer: £11,541,000

+13% below the low presale estimate

Sell-through rate: 84%

  1. Above: 37% (64)
  2. Within: 33% (57)
  3. Below: 13% (22)
  4. Unsold: 15% (26)

Christie’s Day Sale Performance: The Numbers

Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, following the traditional format, marked the culmination of the initial round of March evening and day marquee sales on Saturday, 9th of March. Continuing its robust performance from the evening auction, Christie’s Day Sale delivered impressive results. The sale surpassed expectations by hammering 13% above the low presale estimate and achieving an 84% sell-through rate, with a significant majority of the 143 sold lots either meeting or surpassing their estimates. This performance also surpasses the previous year's sales by 22%, a feat the other auction houses failed to meet, indicating a strong start to Christie’s sales for the year.

In comparison to the day sales of other auction houses, Christie’s ranks second to Sotheby’s in terms of final hammer results, with £11.5 million from 143 lots sold, compared to Sotheby’s £18.5 million from 163 lots sold. However, when considering the performance ratio to estimates, Christie’s final numbers exceeded expectations. A significant contributing factor to this success was the highest-valued star lot among the day sales of all three auction houses. While Keith Haring's absence in both the day and evening marquee sales didn't go unnoticed, his presence was felt in the final sale of the roundup. Untitled (1984), with its roots and exhibition history tied to Milan, made its first auction appearance, emerging as the standout piece of the sale, fetching £750,000 at the hammer and reaching £945,000 with fees.

Here are the highlights:


Study for Persian Painting by Bridget Riley - Christie's 2024 Image © Christie's / Study For A Persian Painting © Bridget Riley 1984

Women Artists: Bridget Riley, Yayoi Kusama, Tracey Emin

Christie’s sale showcased several notable achievements by women artists, which seemed particularly deserving in light of International Women’s Day recognised on the 8th of March. Following the sale of a Bridget Riley canvas in Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction, Riley continued to make a strong impression in Christie’s day sale with Study For Persian Painting (1984). Making its auction debut, this piece fetched a price at the upper end of the high estimate, hammering at £100,000 and realising £126,000 with fees.

Explore our Bridget Riley Investment Guide for 2024 to learn more about her print market performance.

Browse Bridget Riley prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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Butterflies by Yayoi Kusama - Christie's 2024Image © Christie's / Butterflies © Yayoi Kusama 2003

Another standout performer was Yayoi Kusama. Butterflies (2003), a unique canvas adorned with butterflies against a purple backdrop, made its first appearance at auction. While Kusama's butterfly canvases are sought-after in the market, they are relatively rare. The previous instance of a Butterfly Kusama canvas at auction was at Christie’s in September 2023. Although falling slightly short of that sale, Butterflies hammered at £410,000 and realised £516,600 with fees. Another strong Kusama performance came from an early work titled Japanese Radishes (1981). Last sold in 2013 for £60,000, this resale demonstrated an impressive increase in value over a decade, hammering at £220,000 and realising £277,200 with fees.

Maintaining her impressive streak in the Phillips day sale, Tracey Emin achieved significant success with three artworks, all meeting the pre-sale expectations. The stand out piece was a unique work on paper titled Deep Blue II (2011), part of a series of sketches. This piece hammered at £80,000 and realised £100,800, surpassing the high estimate by an impressive margin of two times. The only other sketches from Emin’s Deep Blue series to appear on the public market were Deep Blue III (£46,850 with fees) and Deep Blue V (£15,000), both in 2012.

Browse Yayoi Kusama & Tracey Emin prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about their print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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British Contemporary: Damien Hirst and David Hockney

After a couple unsold works from Phillips evening sale and a withdrawn work from Christie’s evening sale, Damien Hirst made a comeback in the day sale with Beautiful Squawk Painting (with butterflies), 2007 one of Hirst’s earlier square spin paintings made its auction debut after being acquired directly from the artists. Hammering above its presale estimate at £220,000, this work realised £277,200 with fees.

Also from Hirst, a rare and pivotal unique work on paper, Couple Fucking Dead (Twice) (1993-1994), a diary account detailing the process behind Hirst's highly coveted animal formaldehyde works, surpassed its estimate by hammering at £13,000 and realising £16,380 with fees.

One of David Hockney's highly sought-after yet seldom seen works, The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire 23rd April 2011 (2011), made a return to the market. Previously sold at Bonhams in June 2023 for £102,000 with fees, this piece hammered at £140,000 and realised £176,400 with fees during the sale, establishing a new auction record for this print.

Explore our Damien Hirst and David Hockney Investment Guides for 2024 to learn more about their print market performance.

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Lovers by STIK - MyArtBroker Lovers © STIK 2011

Impressive Performance By Urban Artists: Banksy and STIK

There was an impressive showing from our favourite urban artists in Christie’s day sale. Despite a Banksy canvas failing to find a buyer during Phillips' day sale, the infamous provocateur of the art world delivered a strong performance at Christie’s sale. Keep It Real (2002), part of a canvas series featuring different coloured backgrounds, resurfaced after its previous sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2019. Although it fell slightly short of its 2019 hammer price, the piece still fetched an impressive result, hammering above the presale high estimate at £220,000 and realising £277,200 with fees.

Another standout performer was the anonymous street artist STIK. Making its auction debut as an oil on canvas, Lovers (2011) featured against a muted blue backdrop. While prints of this work are rare and highly sought-after, this was the first time the subject appeared as a painting on the public market. The prints have only been offered four times previously, with each subsequent sale witnessing an increase in value. This painting hammered at £60,000 and realised £75,600 with fees, setting a benchmark for its worth.

Explore our Banksy and STIK Investment Guides for 2024 to learn more about their print market performance.

Browse Banksy & STIK prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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Sophie by Alex Katz - Christie's 2024Image © Sophie / Alex Katz © 2003

American Pop: Alex Katz

Finally, but certainly not least, we must acknowledge the contribution of American Pop artist Alex Katz. Katz showcased several works across Sotheby’s and Christie’s evening sales, all of which performed admirably. His success extended to Christie’s day sale with two notable pieces. Sophie (2003), a canvas piece, emerged as the highest valued work, hammering at £480,000, surpassing its low presale estimate of £400,000, and achieving £604,800 with fees. This piece was previously sold at a German auction house for £311,393 with fees.

Demonstrating a strong performance in terms of hammer-to-estimate ratio, Katz’s sunset pieces showcased their competitive appeal compared to his figurative works. Orange Sunset #3 (2004) hammered at £65,000, nearly doubling its high estimate, and realised £81,900

Browse Alex Katz prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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That concludes the London marquee evening sales in March 2024. Now the auction sales will shift to a series of print sales, which we will be reporting on here, at Edition Magazine.

Explore full summaries of Sotheby's Evening & Days Sales and Phillips and Christie's Evening Sales.

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