Record prices for 12 contemporary artists were achieved last night (May 15) at Christie's record breaking Post War and Contemporary evening art sale. Jackson Pollock's Number 19 led the way in history's most valuable auction, which grossed $495m.
"We are in a new era of the art market," Christie's Jussi Pylkkanen commented following the sale.
"There is global competition that we have never seen in the art world before."
Pollock's 1948 drip painting Number 19, which was contested by four telephone bidders, brought $58.4m - a 66.8% increase on its $35m top estimate and a new record for the artist at auction.
It had last changed hands for $2.4m in 1993 - a 17.3% pa rise in value.
The most valuable painting by the artist, Number 5, sold though private treaty to David Martinez, a Mexican financier, in 2006. Martinez reportedly paid $140m for the work.
Roy Lichtenstein's 1963 canvas Woman with Flowered Hat and Jean-Michel Basquiat's Dustheads also sold with strong results, making $53.1m and $48.8m respectively. Both sums represent new auction records for the artists.
The previous record at auction for a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat was $26.4m, achieved in November 2012 - representing an increase of 84.9% in less than a year.
"It shows how broad the market is - as in deep pockets," dealer Larry Gagosian told the New York Times newspaper.
Of the 70 works offered for sale, a mere four (6%) failed to find new homes.
The results throw Sotheby's Contemporary Art evening sale (May 14) into sharp relief. With totals of a comparatively modest $296.3m, Sotheby's evening sale has been well and truly overshadowed. The success at Christie's can largely be attributed to the quality of the works, and calibre of the artists on offer.
See our art and photography collectibles in stock.
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter.