Phillips’ May auction in New York takes in less than at previous editions

Phillips held its May Contemporary Art auction in New York, exactly one day after Christie’s auction, which registered record sales of half billion dollars. The boutique-scaled auction house, headquartered on Park Avenue and 57th Street, sold $78,618,000 of contemporary art, with 30 of the 37 lots offered finding buyers. That translates into a buy-in rate by lot of 19 percent and 12 percent by value. The total fell shy of last May’s $86.8 million sale with a similar buy-in rate by lot of 20 percent.

The evening’s top lot was also the cover lot, Andy Warhol’s rare “Four Marilyns” (1962), featuring the blonde-tressed screen siren in electric red lips and turquoise-colored eye shadow. It sold for $38,245,000 (est. $35-45 million). According to the artist’s catalogue raisonne, it is one of four compositions with the quartet of Marilyn headshots poached by Warhol from a movie studio publicity still from the 1952 black-and-white film “Niagra.” It last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York in November 1998 for $2,312,500.

According to several reliable sources, the painting was recently acquired from New York dealer Robert Mnuchin and put up as the firm’s star lot, without a guarantee. It was bought tonight by Victoria Gelfand of Gagosian Gallery

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Andy Warhol ‘Four Marilyns’ 1962 sold at Philips auction for US$ 38,2 million on May 16, 2013