As it stands, the estimated $16 billion in art sales in 2014 is the second-highest in history, close on the heels of the $16.3 billion record set in 2011. And a sizable chunk is attributed to fierce competition among billionaires for works by Andy Warhol, 1,295 of which were sold at a total of $653.2 million, reports Bloomberg. Worldwide, auctions were up 10%. (Private sales are not included in these figures.) "The headline number is not so much a comment on the art market as it is on global wealth," one expert says. "We haven’t seen a considerable increase in the number of objects sold."
In November alone, two records were set: $2.3 billion of art was auctioned over two weeks in New York, and on Nov. 12 Christie’s sold 75 contemporary works for a single-night record of $852.9 million. None of the top 10 selling artists were women, and only Gerhard Richter, 82, is still alive. Warhol was followed by Picasso (2,820 of his works brought in $448.7 million), while the eighth-ranked Alberto Giacometti had a single sculpture, "Chariot," sell for $101 million, the single most expensive work sold in 2014. Rothko, Monet, and Basquiat were also among the top 10 artists, while Georgia O’Keeffe's "Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1" brought in the most ($44.4 million) for any female artist during the year. (Check out which painting went for a record $142.5 million in 2013.)