Mark Rothko's Untitled (Yellow and Blue) sold for $46.4m in Sotheby's contemporary art evening sale on May 11.
The work dates to 1954, well into Rothko's late period.
It was during this time he developed the extraordinary depth in his work that culminated in what many consider to be his masterpiece - the Seagram murals.
Sotheby's comments: "Standing at over eight feet tall Untitled (Yellow and Blue) engulfs the viewer in the vastness of its yellow and blue planes.
"Like so many of Rothko's most renowned canvases the work stands as a towering thesis on the absolute limits of abstraction with the seamless flow of color and light emanating as if from within."
Rothko's record remains $86.9m, set for Orange, red, yellow (1961) in a 2012 sale in New York.
Roy Lichtenstein's Ring (The Engagement) realised $41.6m.
The painting dates to 1962, just as Lichtenstein was beginning his iconic series based on comic book illustrations.
Gregoire Billault, Sotheby's head of contemporary art in New York, comments: "You only had to count the number of hands in the air for works as diverse as the 2012 Ghenie, Calder from the Barr Collection, and sublime paintings by Sam Francis and Francis Bacon to see that collectors continue to show up when presented with great and rare works of art."
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