Christie’s art sale ‘highest in auction history’


Basquiat's Dustheads went for $48.8 (£32.1m) during Wednesday's auction
Basquiat’s Dustheads went for $48.8 (£32.1m) during Wednesday’s auction

A contemporary art sale at Christie’s in New York has made $495m (£325m), the highest total in auction history.

The sale included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The sale established 16 new world auction records, with nine works selling for more than $10m (£6.6m) and 23 for more than $5m (£3.2m).

Christie’s said the records reflected “a new era in the art market”.

The sale featured works from institutions and private collections, including that of the late singer Andy Williams.

Paintings from the Williams estate included Edward Ruscha’s Mint, Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XVII and Basquiat’s Furious man.

The top lot of Wednesday’s sale was Pollock’s drip painting Number 19, 1948, which fetched $58.4m (£38.3m) – nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.

Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat sold for $56.1m (£36.8m), while another Basquiat work, Dustheads, went for $48.8 (£32.1m).

All three works set the highest prices ever fetched for the artists at auction.

Christie’s described the $495,021,500 total – which included commissions – as “staggering”. Only four of the 70 lots on offer went unsold.

Brett Gorvy, head of post-war and contemporary art, described the amount as “the highest total in auction history”.

“The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new era in the art market,” he said.

Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International, said new collectors were helping drive the boom.

“Twenty-five percent of our buyers last year were new to Christie’s,” he told Reuters. “And four or five of the key lots tonight went to people who have never bought here before.”

Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Black on Maroon) from 1958 was the fourth most expensive sale, raising $27m (£17.7m).

Among the unsold works were pieces by Jeff Koons and Franz Kline.


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