Francis Bacon took top honors and Damien Hirst became the highest-priced living artist—beating out Jasper Johns—at Sotheby's contemporary auctions in London last week. A 1971 Bacon self-portrait went for $43.2 million, and the Hirst pill cabinet called "Lullaby Spring" for $19.4 million. "Hirst is the Google of the art world,'' a New York dealer told Bloomberg.
Prices show the boom in confidence in "new masters," and the emergence of London, buoyed by the strength of the pound, as a a competitor to New York for sales. Wealthy new buyers from the former Soviet Union have also pushed prices to record levels, the New York Times reports.