Modern Art Auction Shatters Records

Rothko painting stars with $86.9M final price

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 9, 2012 9:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – The modern art market is boiling hot right now. For evidence, take a gander at the results from last night's Christie's auction, which saw a Mark Rothko painting sell for nearly $87 million, shattering the gallery's $35 million to $40 million estimate. The sale is a record not just for Rothko, but for the postwar and contemporary category in general, according to the New York Times.

Nor was Rothko alone. A Jackson Pollock sold for $20.5 million, and a Barnett Newman for $22.4 million, both records for those artists. Yves Klein, Alexander Calder, and Gerhard Richter had personal bests as well. "This is the most popular collecting category we have globally, with the richest and deepest number of buyers," Christie's chairman explained. Still, some longtime dealers shook their heads at the prices. "I sold a red Rothko to the National Gallery of Berlin for $22,000," one said. Of course, that was in 1967.

Mark Rothko's 'Orange, Red, Yellow', 1961, on display at Christie's in New York on May 4, 2012 during a preview of the Post War and Contemporary Art sale to take place on May 8.   (Getty Images/AFP)
Mark Rothko's 1961 "Orange, Red, Yellow," oil painting, which had been in the collection of the late philanthropist David Pincus of Philadelphia and for years on loan at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.   (ARS), New York via Christie's, File)
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