2011 Review: The most valuable artwork to sell at auction in 2011

Qi Baishi's depiction of an eagle on a pine tree went for $65.5m in June, becoming the most expensive artwork to be sold this year in the process.

The work, sold at a China Guardian auction in Beijing, set a new record for a contemporary Chinese painting.

Qi Baishi produced the piece in the 1940's for the leader of China, Chiang Kai-shek.

"His paintings have not only affected numerous people inside China, but have won global respect," China Guardian's Guo Tong told the BBC.

China's booming economy and growing number of wealthy, aspirational investors has prompted a surge in repatriation of Chinese artworks in recent years.

Qi Baishi
Qi Baishi's painting was most expensive
artwork sold at auction in 2011

China, including Hong Kong, took 34.3% of global art sales in 2010, overtaking the UK in the process, a report for the French Auction Market Authority found.

Sales were up 137% to $10.8bn on the previous year.

Auction house Christie's stated earlier this year that Asia is the "fastest growing art market in the world".

Wherever you are in the world, and whatever your level of investment, the resurgent art market looks set to continue to offer exciting opportunities for buyers; the Artprice Global Index reveals that global art prices are approaching pre-recession 2008 levels.

Who knows, perhaps 2012 is the year an up and coming talent in your collection makes the big time?

But back to 2011, and an honourable mention should go to Hans Holbein's Darmstadt Madonna, which sold for $70.3m in a private sale in July.

The most expensive artwork ever sold remains Jackson Pollock's Number 5, 1948, which achieved $140m at a private sale in 2006.

Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is the most valuable auctioned artwork. It sold for $106.5m at Christie's in 2010.

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