Art And Culture

Major Artists Set New Records

Major Artists Set New RecordsMajor Artists Set New Records

Mark Rothko’s muted-hued canvas “No. 10” soared to $81.9 million, leading Christie’s marathon sale of post-war and contemporary art, which took in $658.5 million and set new records for several major artists.

The sale of 82 works, or about 25 percent more than usual, approached its high pre-sale estimate of $687 million, and saw just 12% of its offerings left unsold, reports Reuters.

The three top lots each sold for more than $50 million, with three others fetching more than $35 million. New records were set for Robert Ryman and Robert Rauschenberg.

“What we’re seeing is a very knowledgeable market, and in some cases with buyers who have had a very quick education,” said Brett Gorvy, Christie’s’ head of post-war and contemporary art.

Officials at both Christie’s and rival Sotheby’s concur that the recent art boom has been driven at least in part by deep-pocketed clients who have been collecting for only a few years.

So it might have been surprising that Rothko’s muted, somber-toned work, which carried a pre-sale estimate of $45 million, emerged the star.

Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president who was also auctioneer, said that the “quiet, intellectual work” from 1958 appealed strongly to collectors who are “connoisseurs of these types of American pictures from this period.”


Other highlights included Warhol’s “Colored Mona Lisa” and Lucian Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Resting,” which each fetched $56.2 million and beat their estimates. Francis Bacon’s “Portrait of Henrietta Moraes” sold for $47.8 million, in line with its estimate, while an untitled Cy Twombley work went for $42.7 million.

Art collectors continued lavish spending on Thursday as the spring art auctions wrapped up, where a $50.6 million oil by Piet Mondrian set an artist’s record and went far towards the auction house’s $202.6 million Impressionist and modern sale total.

“This sale marks a record-setting week for the global auction market,” said Brooke Lampley, head of Impressionist and modern art of Thursday’s strong result.