Admitting the estimates may have been “too aggressive,” Phillips de Pury’s Contemporary art auction in New York managed to ring up only a total of $71m, way below the optimistic $97m high going into last night. Works by Warhol, Prince, Serra, Lichtenstein, Koons and Cattelan all met price resistance. Big seller was an untitled 2006 painting by Cy Twombly that went for $9m with fees.
The New York Times reported about 40 percent of the 44 lots had some kind of third party financing. Seven failed to sell. Putting the best face on it, a Phillips spokesman said it was a “good buying opportunity” for dealers, and acknowledged the high estimates and dour economy likely affected the bidding.