The spring auctions with their record sales prices swept a breath of fresh air into the fusty art markets, hunkered down as they were, bearish throughout the cold winter.
But the Thursday evening sale at Phillips de Pury stands as an ironic reminder that the winter of our discontent is not to be made glorious by the auction houses.
Introducing, Halsey Minor, technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Cnet, darling of the paddle-wielding, big spending, new monied, art bingers: he had 22 works from his collection on the block, hoping to recover from what the auction houses call one of the big ‘D’s: debt. (The others are Death and Divorce).
Mr. Minor, who has had his share of auction house conflicts in the past, had hoped that the sale would help him pay his $21.6 million delinquent loan to ML Private Finance LLC, an affiliate of Merrill Lynch.
The sale made $21 million and 8% of the buyers premium will go to ML Private Finance, according to a deal made by Philips De Pury in order to wrestle the sale from Christie’s.
Richard Prince’s “Nurse in Hollywood No. 4,” went for $6.4 million. Other works included those by Takashi Murakami, and furniture by Marc Newson.