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Warhol-Basquiat goes begging at Phillips

Phillips’s chief executive says Frieze might have distracted potential buyers

London

It was a case of unlucky lot number 13 at Phillips de Pury’s contemporary auction last night, as Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s GE Short Line & Reading (left, detail), around 1984-85 (est £1.2m-£1.8m), failed to attract any bidders and went unsold. It was a disappointing auction in which a third of the lots went the same way and none of those that sold hammered for higher than its upper estimate. “There were a few more unsold than we expected,” said Phillips’s chief executive, Michael McGinnis, after the sale. He acknowledged that the amount of art for sale during Frieze week could have been a stumbling block. “We had potential buyers registered but people were distracted… maybe they spent their money elsewhere.” The sale total was £12.2m (including commission) against a pre-sale estimate of £15m to £22m (excluding commission).