Clyfford Still art scores $61.7m at Sotheby's 'best art auction ever seen'

"It was one of the best auctions I've ever seen in my life..."

So said Nicolai Frahm, a leading London-based contemporary art adviser, as quoted by Al Arabiya News.  "And in the middle of a recession."

The auction in question was Sotheby's auction of $316 million worth of contemporary and post war art. The sale brought the international auction house its highest total since May 2008 - just months before the financial crisis took hold.

Two weeks of sales were led by a $61.7 million Clyfford Still abstract.

The North Dakota-born abstract expressionist painter's 1949-A-No. 1 had appeared with an estimate of just $30 million. Its value was no doubt boosted by the fact that Still's works rarely appear on the markets.


Clyfford Still's World Record priced $61.7 million painting, 1949-A-No. 1

Each of the four works were sold by the US city of Denver to fund a new museum in the area. They brought a total of $114 million - twice their pre-sale estimate.

Meanwhile, eight works by Gerhard Richter sold for totalled $74 million - nearly three times the low estimate - led by (849-3), which brought a World Record $20.8 million.

Francis Bacon's "Three Studies for a Self Portrait" was another multi-million auction success. It sold for $19.7 million.

"It is incredible to see prices like this in a deep recession," Frahm told Al Arabiya News.

"But people still have a lot of money, and it seems art is one of the very few asset classes where it's safe to put your money − if you buy the right works."

Sotheby's isn't the only international auctioneer to have enjoyed big successes in the Big Apple, this week.


Christie's also enjoyed World Record success this week, with this
$43.2m Lichtenstein

Christie's New York sale on Tuesday (November 8) saw a new World Record price for a Pop Art piece by Roy Lichtenstein, I Can See the Whole Room!...and There's Nobody in It! It sold for $43,202,500.

These sales offer further proof that collectors and art investors are leaving any notions of 'economic recession' at the auction room door, and bidding to push these artworks to new World Record prices.

Watch this space for all the latest news from the art markets.

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