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10 Artworks Totaled $1b at Auction Last Year
Art And Culture

10 Artworks Totaled $1b at Auction Last Year

Barring a sudden mania for illustrated Haggadahs at next week’s Important Judaica sale at Sotheby’s New York, the top 10 art auction lots of 2015 have already been decided.
What did it take to make it into the top 10 last year? Well, it certainly helped if the lot were a painting (9 out of 10), depicting a woman (6 out of 10), and created by a white, male artist (10 out of 10). It further helped if it were sold in New York (10 out of 10), at Christie’s (7 out of 10), and at an evening sale (10 out of 10.) Finally, it greatly improved a lot’s odds to be by Pablo Picasso, who painted three of the artworks in the top 10.
Add it all up and what do you get? $996 million, Bloomberg.com reported.
The auction houses have yet to release their official 2015 totals, but anyone browsing this year’s sales results could tell you that the super-high end of the art market bears an increasingly tenuous connection to the rest of the art world.
Put another way, it is like trying to make a judgment about the airline industry based on Gulfstream G650 sales. Forget emerging artists and galleries. Christie’s November postwar and contemporary art day sales in New York included over 300 lots of similar, slightly less-sought-after works by artists that included Jeff Koons, Alexander Calder, and Andy Warhol and totaled just under $89 million, an amount that would slot in only at No. 5 on the following list.
The same for Sotheby’s, whose November contemporary day sales totaled $98 million, and whose bestselling lot was an oil painting by Roy Lichtenstein that sold for $3.4 million, or 1.89 percent of the price of this year’s top-selling Picasso.
The top 5 works in the list include: ‘Les femmes d’Alger’ (Version ‘O’) (1955) by Pablo Picasso, sold for $180 million at Christie’s; ‘Nu Couche’ (1917-1918) by Amedeo Modigliani, sold for $170 million at Christie’s; ‘L’homme au doigt’ (1947) by Alberto Giacometti, sold for $141 million at Christie’s; ‘Nurse’ (1964) by Roy Lichtenstein, sold for $95 million at Christie’s and ‘No. 10’ (1958) by Mark Rothko, sold for $82 million at Christie’s.
And the second half of the list includes the following artworks: ‘Untitled’ (1968) by Cy Twombly, sold for $71 million at Sotheby’s; ‘La Gommeuse’ (1901) by Pablo Picasso, sold for $68 million at Sotheby’s; ‘Buste de femme’ (1938) by Pablo Picasso, sold for $67 million at Christie’s; ‘L’Allee des Alyscamps’ (1888) by Vincent van Gogh, sold for $66 million at Sotheby’s; and ‘Benefits Supervisor Resting’ (1994) by Lucian Freud, sold for $56 million at Christie’s.

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