Phillips: Latin America Auction Analysis

May 28, 2015

A rather strange and not very successful afternoon sale occurred at Phillips, New York, where Latin America auction took place on Tuesday, May 26. Why was it strange? Because one lot was sold for 40 percent of the value of all sold lots. You don't see that very often. Why was it unsuccessful? Because less than two thirds of auctioned lots were sold, with the sum of hammer prices pretty close to the sum of low estimates of sold lots. That one lot, gigantic in comparison to others, was Wifredo Lam's Présages from 1947, that was sold for $2.2 million.

The Story About Artwork: Carlos Cruz-Diez's Physichromie No. 655 (1973)

After two trips to Paris, Carlos Cruz-Diez returned to his native Venezuela in 1956, where, among others, developed the basis of the Venezuelan kinetic art movement. But, unlike other kinetic artists, who worked with moving parts, Cruz-Diez combined light and color on various surfaces, creating visual effects on a standing base. With his Physichromie No. 655, Cruz-Diez tested the boundaries of perception, while removing everything from the picture apart from colors. The result? Impressive, as the entire color spectrum is visible, while Cruz-Diez used just certain colors - the colors shift as the viewer moves around the artwork.

The Overview of Phillips: Latin America

Just 67 out of 105 lots, or 63.8 percent, were sold at Latin America auction at Phillips. The estimated value of all lots was $7,359,000 - $10,843,000, the expected value of sold lots was $4,975,000 - $7,437,000, and Latin America totalled $5,462,900, or just 9.8 percent above the sum of low estimates. Most lots - 29, or 43.3 percent - were sold in range of estimated values, but many of sold lots went for less than their low estimate - 27, or 40.3 percent of sold lots. As we said, Wifredo Lam's Présages from 1947 had the highest hammer price at $2.2 million, and it was almost five times larger than the hammer price of the second placed lot (Armando Reverón's Desnudo from 1939, sold for $450,000). The average hammer price was $81,536 per lot, and the median hammer price was $20,000.

Other than those two lots that we've mentioned, Mira Schendel's Objeto gráfico from 1973 ($400,000), Carlos Cruz-Diez's Physichrome No. 655 from 1973 ($210,000) and Leonora Carrington's Bat-men (How true my love) from 1950 ($200,000) had hammer prices at $200,000 or higher. Just 11 lots had their hammer prices above their high estimates, and Oswaldo Guayasamín's Portrait of Mary Waller, n.d. had the biggest difference between hammer price and high estimate with +175 difference (estimated at $15,000 - $20,000, sold for $55,000). Many more lots (27) was sold bellow their low estimate, and the worst result achieved Juan Melé's Círculos Invention from 1973, which had -72.5 percent difference between hammer price and low estimate (estimated at $20,000 - $30,000, sold for $5,500).

Phillips New York
Oswaldo Guayasamín - Portrait Of Mary Waller, n.d. (Lot 39). Estimated at $15,000 - $20,000, sold for $55,000. This lot had, by far, the biggest difference between hammer price and high estimate with +175 percent - the next one had +25 percent.

Phillips New York
Vik Muniz - Outlet (Fabrica, Iron Mine), 2005 (Lot 77). Estimated at $15,000 - $20,000, sold for $16,000.

Phillips New York
Luis Enrique Camejo - Evidencia, 2007 (Lot 104). Estimated at $5,000 - $7,000, sold for low estimate.

Phillips New York
Left: Mira Schendel - Objeto Gráfico, 1973 (Lot 11). Estimated at $300,000 - $500,000, sold for $400,000. Objeto gráfico is a paradigmatic work in the oeuvre of Mira Schendel. She utilizes the basic building blocks of words - the medium through which language conveys concepts, emotions, concrete images - to convey her vision of the function and meaning of art. Schendel creates a conversation with the basic elements of two languages, dissecting them in order to find alternative ways of depicting her own vision of reality. This lot once again evidences Mira Schendel’s importance as one of the most innovative and radical artists of the second half of the 20th century. / Right: Tania Bruguera - Destierro (Displacement), 1998-2003 (Lot 1). Estimated at $40,000 - $60,000, sold for $65,000.

Phillips New York
Carlos Cruz-Diez - Physichromie No. 655, 1973 (Lot 9). Estimated at $220,000 - $280,000, sold for bellow its low estimate, for $210,000

Phillips New York
Wifredo Lam - Présages, 1947 (Lot 25). Estimated at $2,000,000 - $3,000,000, sold for $2,200,000. The highest priced lot of the auction, its hammer price was five times larger than of the second placed lot.

Phillips New York
Armando Reverón - Desnudo, 1939 (Lot 31). Estimated at $400,000 - $600,000, sold for $450,000. This lot had the second highest hammer price.

Phillips New York
Bosco Sodi - Untitled - 0089, 2011 (Lot 83). Estimated at $40,000 - $60,000, sold for $70,000. Only eleven lots were sold over high estimate, and this one had +16.7 percent difference.

Phillips: Latin America in Details

In two tables bellow you can find more details on every lot that was auctioned at Phillips: Latin America auction on Tuesday, May 26.

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All images and lot info courtesy of Phillips.

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