A dreamy canvas of three colors — Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow,” from 1961 — shattered all auction records for contemporary art at Christie’s on Tuesday evening, selling for nearly $87 million. It was a stunning moment in an auction that itself brought in the highest total ever in the postwar and contemporary category.
The evening totaled $388.5 million, over its high $329 million estimate. Of the 59 works up for auction, three failed to sell.
NY Times: Record Sales for a Rothko and Other Art at Christie’s
A blond bombshell and a twisted male figure — classic images by Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon — tied for top price at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night, bringing $44.8 million each.
“Great icons make great prices,” Tobias Meyer, director of Sotheby’s contemporary art department worldwide and the evening’s auctioneer, said after the sale. He added, “The market is more global than ever before,” pointing out that the five bidders for Lichtenstein’s “Sleeping Girl,” from 1964, came from China, North and South America and Europe. The price paid by the winner — an unidentified telephone bidder — was a record for the artist, beating last year’s record of $43.2 million set at Christie’s in November.
While record prices were set for other artists, too, including Cy Twombly, Glenn Ligon and Ai Weiwei, the sale did not eclipse Christie’s Tuesday blockbuster, which set a record for the highest total for a contemporary art sale, $388.5 million. Sotheby’s auction totaled $266.6 million, in the middle of its estimate of $215.6 million to $303.9 million. Of the 57 works on offer, 11 failed to sell.
NY Times: $44.8 Million, Going Twice at Sotheby’s