In a Nov. 13 sale that scored a record total for Sotheby’s auction house—$375,149,000 in one night, beating the previous record by more than $13 million—a canvas by the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko led the night with a whopping $75.1 million sale (including fees). The painting, No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue), went to an anonymous bidder for the second-highest amount of any Rothko in history, far more than the pre-sale estimate of between $35 and $50 million. The price was surpassed only by the nearly $87 million, according to the New York Times, that was fetched by the Rothko painting Orange, Red, Yellow earlier this year.
The Rothko, which Sotheby’s said in a statement is a seminal “masterpiece” and which is nearly ten feet tall, was one of only eight works that the artist personally selected for his 1954 solo show at the Art Institute of Chicago. It then remained in the collection of the same person for three decades. It was consigned by Anne Marion of Fort Worth, Tex., according to Bloomberg.
Other highlights from the 69-lot contemporary art auction include Jackson Pollock’s Number 4, 1951, which sold for $40.4 million; Francis Bacon’s Untitled (Pope), which sold for $29.8 million; Willem de Kooning’s Abstraction, which sold for $19.7 million; and Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild, which sold for $17.4 million. In addition, an Andy Warhol silkscreen, the 1964 print Suicide, sold for $16.3 million and set a record price for a Warhol work on paper.
In 2012, Sotheby’s has raised a total of more than $1 billion.”If you’re looking for evidence that today’s market is alive and well,” said Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, in a statement, “ look no further.”