Sotheby's Sets Record Thanks to $75M Rothko

$375M total for contemporary-art auction is biggest in house's history

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 14, 2012 8:42 AM CST

(Newser) – What is it about Rothko that drives auction-goers wild? One of the painter's works went for $75 million at a contemporary-art auction yesterday, helping make the evening's total haul—$375 million—a record-setter in the category for Sotheby's, reports the Wall Street Journal. A multinational group of bidders shelled out tens of millions at a time for works from the likes of Pollock, Bacon, and de Kooning. Rothko's 9.5-foot tall "No. 1 (Royal Red & Blue)" was indeed the night's best seller, going for far more than an expected $50 million, but its sale price fell short of a recent record for the artist's work. It's certainly better news for Rothko-lovers than this bizarre story.

FILE- In this undated file photo provided by Christie's Auction House, Orange, Red, Yellow, a 1956 painting by Mark Rothko is shown. The painting was sold by Christie's in New York for $388.5 million on Tuesday, May 8, 2012.
FILE- In this undated file photo provided by Christie's Auction House, "Orange, Red, Yellow," a 1956 painting by Mark Rothko is shown. The painting was sold by Christie's in New York for $388.5 million...   (AP Photo/Sotheby's Auction Housse, File)
Christie's employee Matt Paton poses for photographs in front of Mark Rothko's Untitled #17 at the auction house's premises in London, Friday, April 15, 2011.  The painting is is estimated to fetch between 11 to 14 million pounds ($18 to 22 million, 12.5 to 16 million euro) when it...
Christie's employee Matt Paton poses for photographs in front of Mark Rothko's "Untitled #17" at the auction house's premises in London, Friday, April 15, 2011. The painting is is estimated to fetch...   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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