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Christie’s set record total for Contemporary art auction

15 November 2012Written by Alex Capon

Making the most amount of money ever seen for a Contemporary art auction, Christie’s evening sale on November 14 made a staggering $363.5m (£237.6m) hammer.

This was the third highest auction total ever - only the famous 'Bloch-Bauer' sale which made $437.7m (£241.3m) at Christie's New York in November 2006 and the Yves Saint Laurent-Pierre Bergé collection which made a premium-inclusive €373.9m (£332.8m/$483.8m) in Paris had generated a greater total.

As at Sotheby's on November 13, there were a string of major prices as bidders contested some of the most sought-after pieces by the biggest names in the market. Overall, nine lots went for over $10m and the sale total was well within the $289m-412m estimate.

A major thrust was provided by Andy Warhol as his Statue of Liberty silkscreen sold to an anonymous phone bidder at $39m (£25.5m) and his 1966 silkscreen portrait of Marlon Brando took $21.1m (£13.8m) also to an anonymous buyer.

The latter had previously sold for $4.5m (£2.81m) at Christie's New York in May 2003. It was bought then by New York businessman Donald L. Bryant Jr. who was the vendor here and the more-than four-fold increase demonstrated the extraordinary growth in the market in the last nine years.

Also drawing hefty competition was a Franz Kline abstract which took more than four times the previous artist's record price which had been achieved at Sotheby's only 24 hours earlier. The untitled work from 1957 sold at $36m (£23.5m), again to an anonymous telephone bidder.

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