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Rothko takes Contemporary art to new auction high

11 May 2012Written by Alex Capon

Setting a record any post-War work of art ever sold at auction, Mark Rothko’s (1903-1970) oil on canvas 'Orange, Red, Yellow' sold for $77.5m (£50m) at Christie’s Contemporary art evening sale on May 8.

The price was the fifth highest all-time auction hammer price (in terms of pounds sterling).

As well as beating the previous record for the artist which came for the 1950 abstract White Center (Yellow, Pink, Lavender on Rose) which made $65m (£32.5m) at Sotheby's New York in May 2007, it was also higher than Francis Bacon's Triptych from 1976 that sold for $77m (£41.4m) hammer to Roman Abramovich at Sotheby's New York in May 2008 and was the previous post-War art record.

Here at Christie's, the Rothko came from the collection of the late clothing manufacturer and art collector David Pincus who died in November.

Estimated at $35m-45m, the bidding on the 7ft 11in x 7ft (2.36 x 2.06m) oil on canvas rose by million-dollar increments before it was knocked down to an anonymous phone bidder.

Overall the sale raised $343.3m (£221.5m) hammer which was above the $236-329m presale estimate and marginally outscored the previous record for any Contemporary art sale of $341m (£171m) set in the same rooms five years ago.

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