Mark Rothko's Untitled (Yellow & Blue) realised $46.5m at Sotheby's contemporary art sale in New York yesterday.
The lot dates to 1954 and is one of the largest and most important works by the artist to come to auction in recent times.
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.
"For nearly thirty years, from the time that it was acquired directly following Rothko's death in 1970, Untitled (Yellow and Blue) held an esteemed place in the renowned collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon."
The auction record for a Mark Rothko painting is $86.9m, achieved for Orange, red, yellow (1961) at Christie's New York in 2012.
The sale also featured Roy Lichtenstein's The Ring (Engagement), which made $41.7m.
Across town, Picasso's La Femme d'Alger sold for a world record $179.3m at Christie's on May 11.
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