Christie's Contemporary Art Auction Breaks Records Taking In Over $410 Million

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The art auctions ended with a big bang on Wednesday (November 15) as Christie's staged the most successful sale of post-war and contemporary art in history, taking in $412 million as new records were set.


It was a second night of blockbuster contemporary art results after rival Sotheby's staged the most successful auction in its history, giving a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the art market.


Seven lots each sold for more than $20 million (USD), several private collections saw every work on offer finding a buyer, and only six of the 73 works that hit the block went unsold.


Christie's officials were thrilled after the auction.


"This season's sales rate was exceptional and the $412 million just beats our $388 million dollars, which we had just set in May, which was the record then, so the market is robust, healthy, objects of great provenance, freshness of the market and coming with very attractive prices, proven to do very, very well," said Christie's head of the evening sale Koji Inoue.


"It's amazing that contemporary art has become a blue chip, sort of, value - something that the market is very confident and believes in."


Franz Kline - whose auction record of $9.3 million was smashed to $40.4 million - was one of the works that soared far beyond even the high estimates.


Warhol's "Statue of Liberty," a 3D silkscreen featuring multiple images of the iconic monument, fetched just over $43.7 million, easily beating the pre-sale estimate of $35 million.


Jean-Michel Basquiat's untitled work from 1981 sold for $26.4 million, easily beating the old record of $20.1 million set in June.


"He will become the reigning king going forward," Inoue told Reuters of Basquiat.


"It's been shocking that his prices haven't sold for more until now. When you put it into the context of, say, Warhol selling for over $70 million dollars, Bacons in the $50 million dollar-level. Basquiat at this $26 million dollars is a very great price, but I think we're just seeing the beginning."


Seminal works of pop art exceeded expectations, like Warhol's Marlon Brando silkscreen which fetched $23.7 million and beat the high estimate.


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