Phillips Notches Best-Ever Sale, Led By £41.8m Picasso

Wrapping up the London auction week was Phillips' historic 20th Century & Contemporary Evening sale, which achieved £97.8 million (US$135.2 million), the highest sale total in the company's history.

The best-ever-sale was led by Picasso's, La Dormeuse, a painting depicting his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter. Picasso, in his age 45, began a romantic relationship with Walter, who was only 17 years old. In Picasso’s paintings, Marie-Thérèse is typically portrayed with curved lines.

Estimated at £12m - 18m, the painting drew a fierce bidding battle. It was finally hammered down for £37m and sold to the client represented by Marianne Hoet, Senior Specialist of 20th Century & Contemporary Art and Deputy Chairman, Europe.

The second highest price was achieved by Nu allongé I (Aurore), Henri Matisse's 1907 sculpture cast in bronze. The sculpture, estimated at £5m - 7m, was hammer down for £13m after four telephone bidders fighting over it, fetching £14.85m with buyer's premium.

Mark Bradford 's Helter Skelter I also contributed to the sale with a hammer price £7.5m, selling £8.67m with buyer's premium, a new auction record for the artist.

The sale recorded a 91.7 percent sold by lot, only 4 of the 48 lots offered went unsold, together with a total of £97.8m, exceeding last year's total by almost seven times.

It is difficult to make a comparison of the sale results between Phillips and the two leading auction houses since Phillips put Impressionist and Modern Art, as well as Contemporary art into one sale. But this sale is a testament to Phillips' rising presence in the market for modern and contemporary art.


Top three lots

Pablo Picasso, La Dormeuse

Lot no.: 10
Size: 130.2 x 161.9cm

  • Collection of the Artist
  • Bequeathed to his second wife Jacqueline Rocque-Picasso
  • Thence by descent to her daughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay
  • Pace-Wildenstein Gallery, New York
  • Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner on 29 June 1995

Estimate: £12,000,000 - 18,000,000
Hammer price: £37,000,000
Price realized: £41,859,000

Henri Matisse. Nu allongé I (Aurore).

Lot no.:9
Size: 34.3 x 50.2 x 28.6cm

  • Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (on consignment from Henri Matisse from 16 January 1912)
  • Montross Gallery, New York
  • Private Collection, France
  • Acquired from the above by the father of the present owner circa 1950 and thence by descent

Estimate:£5,000,000 - 7,000,000
Hammer price: £13,000,000
Price realized: £14,859,000

Mark Bradford. Helter Skelter I.

Lot no.: 14
Size: 365.8 x 1036.3cm

  • Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York
  • Private Collection, Ohio
  • Acquired from the above by the present owner

Estimate: £6,000,000 - 8,000,000
Hammer price: £7,500,000
Price realized: £8,671,500


Auction summary
Auction house: Phillips London
Sale: 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Date: 2018/3/8
Lots offered: 48
Sold: 44
Unsold: 4
Sold by lot: 91.7%
Sale total: £97,800,000