Plucked from this sale, our lot of the week is Marilyn Minters drippy, sexually ripe 2010 photograph of a mouth, "Parted," which was hammered down for $120,000 — the sale’s highest-earning lot. (Despite the presence of Sotheby’s ace auctioneer Tobias Meyer, there would be no buyer’s premium to tag onto the sale price.) That sizable sum nearly equaled the $122,500 paid by a bidder at Sotheby’s New York in 2008 for Minter’s 2002 photograph "Splattered," a six-by-four-foot close-up of a gold-glitter-splattered eyelid, printed with enamel on aluminum. Remarkably, "Parted" is a fraction of the size of that work (a mere 30-by-24-inches) and dated 2010, making the six-figure sale price an impressive triumph for Minter — and for the museum, which brought in $547,000 during the live auction.
Of course, a charity auction is hardly the proper place to judge the state of an artist’s market. People are willing to pay a premium to support a good cause at such events, especially when they can do so publicly, in front of the adorning (or envious) eyes of friends, colleagues, and competitors. In addition, Minter was the Aspen museum's guest of honor, meaning that she no-doubt had strong supporters in the audience. Still, one imagines that the dealer’s New York gallerist, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, will have that sizzling $120,000 price tag in the back of her mind when — fresh off her stint as a reality-show judge — she takes a moment to consider Minter’s prices.