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Auction houses are being the in-discuss leaders of the art market. Who detain capital more and more often choose the auction as the best warranty for its money future investment. But the question is: for how long an artwork can be a good investment? How many trends can change games? 

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Let us take the example of last evening sale at Phillips... If 2019 had forecast revenue growth, the first 2020 art auction brought the clock back with revenue of £ 20.7 million, 40% less year on year. Four lots were withdrawn before the auction, probably for lack of interest, among which a geometric composition of Stella estimated at £ 2-3 million and a large 'sculpture' by KAWS (estimate 700-900 thousand £), and two lots' Italians', minor works by Stingel and Boetti. 

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This raised pre-auction estimates to £ 18.2-25.4 million, achieved only through the addition of commissions. Of the 37 lots left, although 10 were already guaranteed by a third party and therefore 'sold' before the auction, six did not find buyers, including another KAWS job (estimate 300-400 thousand £), a symptom of fatigue of his market suddenly exploded last year but heavily dependent on Asian buyers largely absent for obvious reasons. Both of Anish Kapoor's proposed works have gone unsold including a potential millionaire mirror. Sold only in the after-auction a very recent work by Kusama estimated at £ 600-800 thousand. Eight of the ten guaranteed lots achieved revenues in the top ten values ​​and in five cases in all probability the buyer was the guarantor, in the absence of other raises.


A vision in red: property from a private Swiss collection. El Anatsui, lower right aluminium bottle caps and copper wire, 310 x 341 cm.
Executed in 2014. Estimate £ 700.000 - 900.000. Sold for £915.000. Courtesy Phillips 


This is a recent work by Ed Ruscha from 2014 which reached the estimate at £ 3.4 million, a 2.5-meter canvas by Keith Haring from 1981 which reached 3.2 million from an estimate of 3-4 million only thanks to commissions, the only one of KAWS 'three works sold for £ 900,000 from an estimate of £ 800-1,2 million, and a rather subdued 1996 painting by Peter Doig that he struggled to make £ 800,000. The recent works of certain artists were a breath of fresh air,  as in artists such as Sean Scully, whose multicolor canvas of 2018 has touched the high estimate of £ 1 million, and the Ghanaian Al Anatsui with 'Affirmation' of 2014, a characteristic multicolor composition given by scraps of metal that has exceeded the high estimate of 900£ thousand. 


Tschabalala Self Princess, 2017. Estimate- £150,000-250,000. 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips London, 13 February.  
Looking at the viewer fixedly in a squatting pose, the flamboyant woman in Tschabalala Self. Courtesy Phillips


Always staying on young artists Tschabalala Self achieved his personal best at £ 435,000 with the 2017 'Princess' figure, well beyond estimates, while the Chinese Jia Aili exceeded the high estimate at £ 855,000 for a large canvas of 2012 'The Young', but the real revelation was Amoako Boafo, a thirty-five-year-old artist of Ghanaian origin, recently 'discovered' by the powerful Rubell family of Miami, after his first show in Los Angeles. At the auction debut the recent two-meter canvas 'The Lemon Bathing Suit' of 2019, which depicts a black woman in a floral swimsuit by the pool, went from an estimate of £ 30-50 thousand, in line with fair prices to Miami in December, at the stratospheric price of £ 675,000.

Cover image: Amoako Boafo The Lemon Bathing Suit, 2019. Estimate- £30,000-50,000. 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Phillips London, 13 February. Courtesy Phillips 

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