Digital Art’s First Auction

by Paddy Johnson on October 23, 2013 · 0 comments The L Magazine

This week at The L Magazine, I talk to Phillips auction attendees and market experts to try and gage the success of the first digital auction, Paddles On. Based on what I heard, I’d guardedly call it a success.  An excerpt:

The auction room at Phillips was filled with so many chattering people on October 10 that employees had to shush them just so you could hear the auctioneer. This wasn’t a typical auction. A typical auction is a quiet affair at which you can buy a selection of secondary-market work (art objects that have have been sold at least once before), thus they’re of little interest to struggling artists.

But Paddles On, curated by Lindsay Howard and presented in partnership with Tumblr, was unique—and not just because of the noise. It was the first digital-art auction, and also the first in Phillips’ history to sell exclusively primary-market work. The only other comparable contemporary example was the 2008 Damien Hirst sale at Sotheby’s, which made a bit more money—$198 million as opposed to Phillips’ $90,600—but for something so untested, insiders have guardedly judged its take positively.

Steven Sacks, the owner of bitforms gallery in Chelsea, said that while he thought the auction was a wild success for artists that weren’t well-known, “financially, it’s more difficult to say.” Nine of the 20 lots sold for less than their estimated bids, and four of those were bought-in by the auction house. “Obviously, the numbers weren’t through the roof,” Sacks said.

To read the full piece click here.

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