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.
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.
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).