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Collectively, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips de Pury grossed a premium-inclusive total of more than $270m (£154m) at their autumn series of auctions.

Impressionist & Modern art – which achieved $388m (£222m) of sales the previous week – remains the main auctioneers’ largest source of sheer turnover, but in terms of depth of bidding, individual artist’s records, overall selling rates and performance against estimate, Contemporary continues to dominate.

This time round Christie’s enjoyed a slight edge over their rivals, realising a grand total of $124.7m (£71m) from their various sales, compared to $121.6m (£69m) at Sotheby’s.

The risks involved in giving multimillion dollar guarantees to the owners of season-defining consignments was again the talk of these New York sales. Christie’s were rumoured to have guaranteed Andy Warhol’s 1963 Mustard Race Riot to the tune of $15m in their November 10 Part I sale and were relieved to see it sell for $13.5m ($15.1m with premium) to the Cologne dealer Raphael Yablonka.

Also understood to have been heftily guaranteed by Christie’s were six lots from “an important American collection”, but again these all found buyers, albeit at the lower end of their ambitious estimates, led by the below-forecast $4.8m (£2.7m) for Cy Twombly’s 1971 Untitled (Rome).

Overall Christie’s Part I sale generated $92.4 (£52.5m) with 94 per cent of the lots sold.

Demand had been similarly strong at Sotheby’s $93.4m (£53m) Part I Contemporary sale the previous evening. Here 80 per cent of the lots found buyers, led by the record $15.5m (£8.8m) paid for the Mark Rothko 1954 abstract, No.6 (Yellow, White, Blue over Yellow on Gray). Twenty-four of the 62 offered lots fetched over $1m and a further eight artist records were set.

Hottest name of the week was undoubtedly Maurizio Cattelan (b.1960), whose hilariously subversive life-size Klu Klux Klan elephant sculpture, Not Afraid of Love, fetched a record $2.45m (£1.4m) at Christie’s Part I sale. Almost exactly 24 hours later, Cattelan’s even more dramatic dead-Pope-hit-by-meteorite piece, La Nona (The Ninth Hour), set a new high of $2.7m (£1.5m) at Phillips de Pury’s November 11 Part I sale.

With a Part I total of $25.5m (£14.5m) and a selling rate of 93 per cent, Phillips continue to be a significant player in the auction market for Contemporary art. As yet, this market shows no major signs of overheating, but the strain does seem to be showing in the increasingly overcrowded calender of contemporary art fairs.