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Image of Damien Hirst's Happy Head Courtesy of Phillips de Pury & Company

The Auctions No Artist Wants To Be In - Or Do They?

Art auctions are, supposedly, exciting. Nobody told the two dozen or so buyers gathered for the Christie's sale of contemporary art last week. As a photo of a small Sol LeWitt sculpture came on the screen, a man in the back muttered into his cell phone, "I don't know, do you want it?"

He spoke softly, and the people in the pretty empty room turned around in their seats to watch.

"O.K.," he waved finally, "65."

"Sold," the auctioneer said, at a bid of $65,000. And that pretty much sums up the drama.

The March contemporary art sales held last week at Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips de Pury are the Off Off Broadway of auctions. Ignored by the broader world, they are where damaged or failed works go, where ideas are tried out, where works by veterans whose careers have stalled often end up. These sales are the little-noticed counterparts to the May and November biannual orgies of excess, when financiers and Russian oligarchs drop millions on famous art. They give clues to what's really going on in the art world, and sometimes offer bargain-basement deals for collectors. But one thing's for sure: these are sales no artist wants to be in.


For the rest of this article go to the NY Observer.

 

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