Rothko Leads a Record Contemporary Art Sale

Posted filed underArt Market, Auctions, Contemporary Art.


“In a surge of bidding unprecedented in art market history, Christie’s Tuesday evening sale of contemporary art took in $388.5 million, the highest amount ever in that field.”

The New York Times: “A world auction record was set for a work of contemporary art when Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” painted in 1961 sold for just under $87 million. Christie’s estimate was $35 million to $45 million, plus the sale charge of more than 15 percent. Christopher Burge, who conducted the session with exceptional brio, brought down his hammer on the $77.5 million winning bid after one of the longest bidding matches yet witnessed in a contemporary art sale.

The Rothko had everything going for it. Acquired from Marlborough Fine Art in London in 1967 by David Pincus, one of the leading American collectors in the second half of the century, the picture, consigned from the connoisseur’s estate, had never appeared in the market during the intervening 45 years.

Rothko, who died in 1970, was the dominant force in the New York abstractionist movement of the 1960s, and “Orange, Red, Yellow” can convincingly be argued to be the most powerful of all his pictures. That record leaves well behind the previous highest price paid at auction for a Rothko when “White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)” sold at Sotheby’s in May 2007, for $72.8 million. The market was then peaking on the eve of the 2008 recession, which makes this week’s new record all the more impressive.

The price that greeted “Orange, Red, Yellow” was the most spectacular of 14 world records established on Tuesday. ”

Read on at The New York Times.