Rothko Fetches $75 Million at Record-Setting Sotheby’s Sale

If you're looking for evidence that today's art market is alive and well, look no further

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image: Mark Rothko's painting No 1 was sold by Sotheby's New York during a contemporary art evening sale for 75,122,500 US dollar. The price far exceeded from the pre-sale estimated price of 35,000,000 - 50,000,000 US dollars.
SOTHEBY'S / EPA

Mark Rothko's painting No 1 was sold by Sotheby's New York during a contemporary art evening sale for 75,122,500 US dollar. The price far exceeded from the pre-sale estimated price of 35,000,000 - 50,000,000 US dollars.

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.

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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.”

56 comments
NerdsAreFaggots
NerdsAreFaggots

Jews have abysmal visual sense and therefore resort to con artistry and gimmicks.  Nothing new here.

steve.pender
steve.pender

Great, $75,000,000 was parted from a fool. This is great news.

JessePeterson
JessePeterson

Jews don't create art, just garbage that they con the gullible into buying.

gracechiou88
gracechiou88

With his painting selling more than $75million, Mark Rothko remains very unknown to the general public.  Would Time magazine want to write an article introducing the life of the famous artist?

Cosmic1
Cosmic1

The ART World is changing!  The 0 Talented: who pretend to be artists, such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, have "had" their moment. The world is demanding real art, by real artists, "not" people who only hire assistants to create "the art"- the artist sells.                

The mega dealer's are now dinosaur's: that even the biggest collectors do not trust in 2012, and this is why "every year" has become "record breaking" events @  auction houses. Just like the Apple or Berkshire Hathaway stock price, art investors want the best names in the business, no matter if they like the art or not. This is more fair than dealers promoting the current crop of frauds. Julien Spalding"s new book "Con ART"... concerning the "art" of Damien Hirst, makes interesting reading. In the near future more artists around the world will break thru the mega-dealer facade, and sell directly to collectors at high levels completely without dealers. I will create The Cosmic Contemporary Museum of Art in 2015 and give 12 solo shows each year for undiscovered major talents that are found internationally "except" at the major gallery level.  Having Created "COSMIC HARLEY" and debuting December 8th, 2012 @ Canada Fest, Palm Springs Convention Center in CA, my new creation: "*COSMICSTAR  CRUISER" ARTBIKE, priced @ 1Million U.S Dollars,  the art world's most valuable bicycle is another 1st.  "RARE objects" will always bring staggering prices in the art market.  Creating a new style of art called "Cosmic Extensionalism"in 2000, was thru inspiration.    Discovery by the people who promote artists who sell dead sharks- and exhibit them -in art museums, seemed to me, UNACCEPTABLE... Finally: YES, The ROTHKO is worth 75M$ as art history. In 20 years an "Original" Jack Armstrong will be the "first" contemporary painting, to break : 1Billion dollars. Supply and demand rule the world of rare objects. In the future of art, it will be exciting to see new, and talented artists break thru the current cartel system with Amazing ART: That continues to set records for the "artist" that creates the work. Not just the people who sell it!     ARTIST, JACK ARMSTRONG,  L.A.                  

Voice
Voice

And why can't we raise taxes on these guys?

MelindaThompson
MelindaThompson

I hate Rothko's work.  I know his history and works, and I actually understand what he was trying to do.  Nevertheless, it's not worth 75 million.  BTW, many of Rothko's works have faded to shades of grey (not the book)  because he used substandard (read cheap) paint. Most of the paintings must be stored in dim light because of the fading problems.

RonaldMccord
RonaldMccord

What I care about is this: I am a type 1 diabetic. My feet were going to be amputated. until I found a simple way to stop that from happening. if you are a diabetic you need to read saveyourfeetDOTwordpressDOTcom

JulianFranco
JulianFranco

I wonder what an Obamaloni poster will go in 50 years

imho
imho

I don't understand why everyone is so upset such a painting was sold for such at such a high cost. You can't blame Rothko for this and judge his painting saying how trivial it is. First of all, he is dead, so he obviously had no control over the price; secondly, he himself fought with this whole notion feeling he was misunderstood as an artist and people were buying his works due to fashion. His paintings, however you may judge, are part of art history, though. They are more than just squares of paint, and even if they aren't, there was actual technique that went into them (if you bothered to learn about it), and the fact his paintings make this much money and your child's kindergarten paintings don't must be for a reason. Perhaps due to the history behind the painting, the purpose of the painting's creation (which was not necessarily to make money as isn't there a stigma on how artists are all poor?), or the fact the people who purchased the painting may have some knowledge as to its importance, which you don't, contributed to its hefty cost. If whoever bought it did so just because it's a known artist and really feels the same way you seem to, I'm fairly certain they would've spent the money on something else. And for those who are upset the wealthy spend exorbitant amounts of money on this as opposed to donating it to those whom are starving or the like, can't the same be said about any frivolous purchase anyone makes? I'm sure a starving person would be very happy to have the money spent on your last pair of shoes or ipod. People are free to spend their money as they please. Sure, it would've been nice for starving children to receive that money, but it definitely could've been spent on worse. I don't understand why it's okay for people to spend this so much money buying sports teams and beach mansions, but it's outrageous to spend it on art. Why is art viewed with such disdain?

jimmoir
jimmoir

Reminds me of something that happened in my home city. A new civic building was erected, and the city councellors commissioned some local artist to do a sculpture in front of  it , for something like 100 grand (this was in the late 70's so the equivalent today would be a lot more). It was hideous, looked like a metal penis or something, and there was huge outrage in the local media about spending so much money for such a piece of sh**t. Oh no, said the art community , you just dont understand it. Anyway, said building was expanded and renovated about 2 years ago- and they tried to find someone to buy this magnificent work of art. |To no avail. Finally the city had to pay a few thousand bucks- to get a local company to haul it off to the dump. True story.

JasonLeung
JasonLeung

are these people stupid?  It's a piece of carpet sample.

jimmoir
jimmoir

Oh man, did they get ripped off.

I would have given them SIX squares of color, twice as big for only 20 million!

Some people just have no shopping sense

ThomasNVerran
ThomasNVerran

rich people make me sick! they wast so much money on stupid things, like this painting, my 4 year old can paint the same thing and better, I'll start the biding at .....say 75 million?   Idiots! You know the saying 'Youth is wasted on the Young' well 'Money is wasted on the rich"

JudithHirt
JudithHirt

I just want to say that money could feed a lot of people. It must be horrible to have so much money, you'd resort to such frivolity. What is there left to want?

Arthurrr
Arthurrr

Most people don't understand just how corrupt and false the Art world is. They can not imagine how a painting like this , a worthless meaningless nonsense painting, done by a weak talentless moron like Rothko could fetch tens of millions. Most people really dont care enough to dig deep enough to find out. Let me just say that these auctions are rigged, totally. And the prices are artificial. This practice started in the early 1950's. And the Emperor is completely nude.

Daniel_Xavier_Knight
Daniel_Xavier_Knight

People of the planet Earth, you don't understand, the painting was worth 75 million because the painting contains a secret formula for aborting babies faster and causing them more pain in the process, and turning the dead trashed babies into a secret stem cell formula of youth. It also contains tesseract energy that bled off the art film known as The Avengers into the painting, and whoever touches it will become a super baby murdering eternal god-moron. Don't you understand, people? By the way did you know that Time has no complaint department, so if one of their employees decides to harass you over the Internet, or at all, no one will take the complaint? It happened to me. I wonder how they handle harassment between employees if they have no policy for punishing employees who attack customers for their religion or irreligion. Please like this comment up to let Time know to take harassment seriously.

JesseClark
JesseClark

Last night I threw up on some notebook paper. Opening bids at $25 million. Any takers? 

TammyMiller-Buckman
TammyMiller-Buckman

I will paint that same picture but make it 11 feet tall. So now it will be 1 foot taller than Rothko's. Therefore, my painting should be priced at 75.1m + 1 foot. So 75.1m divided by 10 feet = what? 7.51m? My picture will then be worth 82.61m. I will go  get the supplies and  11feet of canvas and my 5 year old to start the painting. 

Daniel_Xavier_Knight
Daniel_Xavier_Knight

lol. It's true what Jesus said: It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to Heaven. However, as this sale demonstrates among other countless things: nothing is impossible with God.

54fighting
54fighting

Get over yourself, Jesse.  Really,based on your literary skill, you should have no trouble whatsoever.  Art, unlike math and science, is in the eye of the beholder. 

54fighting
54fighting

We're close to the end, right?  Please tell me that we are close to the end.

P.S. The guys who bought and sold this aren't paying Obama's taxes. 

mayhemman19
mayhemman19

Somewhere some kid just died from not getting any food to eat.  And somewhere else, someone spent 75 million dollars on a painting my son could have done in kindergarten. 

JamesJones
JamesJones

There ia no doubt, the rich are richer. I will personally paint 75 copies of that piece for $1,000,000.00. There is no doubt someone needs serious therapy. If they had spent that on philanthropy we would be cheering. That much on a piece of stuff that never was art and never will be and forever. . . psychosis.

Chad
Chad

Now there is no doubt in my mind that Obama is right about raising taxes on the upper two percent . If you want some old paint that bad, just go get some out of my garage.

jeffrow63
jeffrow63

Anyone who would pay $75 mil for that is a dumb***

BLX
BLX

I know many people will think it is ridiculous to spend 75 million on a painting, but they fail to see that people who spend this kind of money on art do it mostly for investment sake.  I guarantee that the buyer will be able to sell this painting for 100 million a few years from now.  That's a pretty nice return on investment if you ask me.

jeffphil777
jeffphil777

I could be worth twice as much if he drew a couple stick men in there somewhere.

AlanDeanFoster
AlanDeanFoster

Caltech in Pasadena just registered a 6.4, caused by the thunderous laughter coming from the back of Sotheby's storeroom.

Intelligent design indeed.

steve.pender
steve.pender

@Voice Because tax law makes no distinction between the buyer of this, and someone like Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or Jeff Bezos, who are using their money towards very useful private endeavors (space exploration). I'd rather the fool have his money to waste, than have even a dime stolen from those who do more with it than government does.

NerdsAreFaggots
NerdsAreFaggots

@imho stop at "I don't understand" and maybe do some more work there before tying out another 1000 words of boring junk

breavis
breavis

@imho Yes, America is sadly under-appreciative of art. But your whole argument about the talent and history making this thing so valuable is bogus. For comparison, one of Da Vinci's codices only sold for $30 million. Does it seem a bit more absurd now?

It's not Rothko to blame, its the camp of people putting this stuff up on a pedestal that it doesn't deserve to be on. Artists like Emil Carlsen who have demonstrated immense talent and knowledge of both design, harmony, and realism are left virtually unknown because these "colored squares" are touted as genius.

imho
imho

sorry for the long post, but it just really distressed me to read some of these comments

xryspy
xryspy

@jimmoir Some people have little or no sense of esthetics, design or history.

steve.pender
steve.pender

@Arthurrr I suspected this too, that the price can be anything, but whether the buyer actually pays the price is hidden. For all we know, they could drive it up to an absurd price, for which Sotheby's gets a cut, but which sets a precedent for future sales of other Rothko works. Basically they create the appearance of a big fish, then fish for suckers in future auctions.

xryspy
xryspy

@Arthurrr Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Rothko was a sensation then and remains so now. If you think about a piece of art's beyond it's relative appeal to you personally and the monetary value placed on it you may gain an understanding of the work's meaning and import to the world at large.

Daniel_Xavier_Knight
Daniel_Xavier_Knight

@JesseMeenaghan "Can't believe all the retards saying "my kid could have painted this" and other garbage like that. You sound like morons." You sound like a moron saying that words = the sound of a moron, what's a moron sound like, idiot? You sound like a moron by speaking for all: sounds like a moron to who you idiot? TO YOU YOU MORON, YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR THE WORLD LET ALONE THE PEOPLE YOU'RE INSULTING, DO YOU SPEAK FOR THEM? ARE THEY SAYING, "YES WE SOUND LIKE MORONS"? SO NO IDIOT, IT'S YOU WHO HAS SAID WHAT IS STUPID. You can't even make sense, "sounds"? So you here their voice you idiot? A stupid person sounds like what, "retarded"? Dumb.

steve.pender
steve.pender

@BLX It's musical chairs. Who gets stuck with the canvas smeared with paint whose intrinsic value is about $500? The thing is, it makes no sense as an investment. Many skyscrapers cost less than that. I assume that there is some collusion between high bidder and seller, to drive the price high, lose a bit in auction fees, but create a higher perceived demand for future auctions of Rothko paintings. With public knowledge that one sold for $75M, the price of all other Rothkos increase in perceived value, the point being that the rise exceeds the cost of the auction fees. Since defenders of art love art being in the subjective realm of values, it's easy to conspire to do something like this. The buyers of modern art are either playing a dangerous conscious game of musical chairs, or are suckers. I don't think there are really any alternatives.d

Daniel_Xavier_Knight
Daniel_Xavier_Knight

@AlanDeanFoster Your comment made no sense, it's a non sequitur: the last part has nothing to do with the first, it's also a fallacy of vagueness: you're not specifying what you are implying isn't intelligently designed: the universe God made and all the things in it. or a stupid painting made by someone he gave the intelligence to do what they like? If you mean that, then you're committing a third fallacy called throwing the baby out with the bathwater: you're summing up the intelligence of whoever made this as small merely over this painting, or a second non sequitur: because someone paid much money for it, which has nothing to do with the intelligence of the one who made it, in fact it could say they were very intelligent because it made that much money! You made a second throwing the b out with the bw by throwing out God merely because you didn't like the painting of someone he made, which in a way is a third non sequitur: what does God's intelligence have to do with the intelligence of someone who made a painting? It can even be said to be a fallacy of cause and effect since you've not specified what the direct relation is when it is not obvious.

xryspy
xryspy

@breavis @imho Rothko's work has challenged fans and critics alike for more than half a century. Emil Carlsen while no doubt talented challenges less and says little that hasn't been said before.

steve.pender
steve.pender

@xryspy, yes it is unfortunate that some people have so limited an art education that they would give more than a second of their attention to 3 smears of paint in rectangles.

NerdsAreFaggots
NerdsAreFaggots

@xryspy @breavis @imho listen to this clown dress up shell game art fashion as intellectual challenge...maybe your small brain was challenged, my considerably larger one wasn't

imho
imho

@breavis @xryspy @imho I can definitely see your point. I'm sure there are numerous artists and technicians who go under-appreciated for their talent, but I kind of agree with xryspy in regards to Emil Carlsen. But admittedly, I know very little about said artist vs. Rothko whom I've been exposed to much in art history classes. Additionally, there is an artist, Duchamp, who indeed created a urinal art piece. It was part of the Dada art period. It has value, which isn't necessarily monetary. And perhaps the people who have been purchasing Rothko's art prefer their art to be challenging and that's why they prefer it over something beautiful. I suppose when you have $75m you can purchase whatever art you wish. And in response to your statement about the $30m Da Vinci Codex, I think you may be referring to the one purchased by Bill Gates in 1994. It was purchased prior for $5.12m in 1980. It's estimated to possibly be worth as much as $100m now, according to Kenneth Gloss. Prices change.

breavis
breavis

@xryspy @breavis @imho I could challenge a bunch of things by constructing a giant toilet in a national park... that doesn't mean it has any worthwhile value. I judge art by whether its beautiful. I could care less what its challenging. Just as I don't judge a persons quality by how different they are, but how good they are.