Nearly $400 million was spent on a haul of 59 modern art masterpieces.
Last week, a pastel of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” fetched $120 million at a Sotheby’s auction, the most ever spent on a single work of art. And just yesterday, a Christie’s auction sold off 59 works by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, and Yves Klein for a total of $388.5 million, the most ever raked in during a contemporary art auction. Among the masterpieces sold include Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow,” which sold for $89 million, and Pollock’s “No. 28,” one of the finest examples of his famed paint-dripping technique, which went for $24 million, the most ever for a Pollock. Also noteworthy is the $22.5 million spent on Barnett Newman’s “Onement V”, which more than quadrupled the previous record for a Newman painting. Perhaps this means that the National Gallery of Canada’s purchase of Newman’s similar “Voice of Fire” for $1.8 million in 1989 could prove to have been a far shrewder investment than critics at the time led the public to believe. The Rothko painting is believed to have set the record for the most expensive contemporary (as in, post-war) painting ever sold, while the entire auction topped the previous contemporary auction total of $384 million from five years ago.