The 2 most expensive pieces of American art to sell at auction were created by a pair of old Greenwich Village pals.
In 2017, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Untitled” (1982) sold for $110.5m, setting the record for an American work.
On Monday, Andy Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” shattered Basquiat’s record, selling for $195m, per The New York Times.
… kicked off a 2-week auction marathon with an estimated $2.6B on the line. And expectations are high — Warhol’s record-breaking painting sold in 4 minutes, proving that, despite a terrible stretch for the stock market, there’s still an appetite for iconic paintings.
After weathering a turbulent 2020, the art market bounced back with a massive recovery in 2021. A recent report from cultural economist Clare McAndrew attributes the rebound to several factors, including some new trends:
- Online sales, which accounted for 20% of total sales in 2021
- NFTs, which pulled new buyers into the fold — 78% of Sotheby’s NFT bidders were new to the auction house, and 50%+ were under 40
This contributed to $65B in total sales for auction houses selling art and antiques — up 29% from 2020, and eclipsing 2019’s total as well.
But 2022 could be bigger
- Basquiat, whose billboard-sized “Untitled” is worth an estimated $70m
- Mark Rothko, who has 2 paintings going on auction estimated at $145m combined
- Jackson Pollock, whose “Number 31” has an asking price of $45m+
So, why are there so many heavy hitters on the market this spring? According to one expert, it’s pretty simple — looking at the market’s performance these last 2 years, sellers believe it’s a good time to sell.
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