Rothko world record smashed by 19.3% at colourful Christie's sale


Christie's hotly anticipated Post-War & Contemporary Art sale saw numerous records tumble yesterday (May 8), with Mark Rothko's Orange, Red, Yellow now holding the new world record for contemporary art at auction. 


Mark Rothko Orange, Red, Yellow world record
Rothko's record breaking Orange, Red, Yellow (1961)

A total of 14 world records were set in the evening sale, with nine works selling above $10m. The auction realised $388.5m overall, making it the highest selling auction of its kind in history.

Rothko's painting, a characteristic 1961 work, was sold for $86.9m; just one week after Edvard Munch's The Scream set a world record for any art work at $119.9m. Orange, Red, Yellow went to auction with an estimate of $35m-45m, achieving a 93.1% increase.

The previous Post-War art record was held by Francis Bacon's Triptych, 1976, which sold for $86.3m in 2008. Rothko's own record at auction stood at $72.8m for his White Center, which sold to the Qatari royal family in 2007. The $86.9m sale price means Rothko's work is up 19.3% on the previous record.

The Rothko piece was expected to compete with Yves Klein's FC1 or Fire Colour 1, which is considered to be the artist's masterpiece, having been completed just weeks before his death in 1962. The Rothko work far outstripped Klein's however, which sold for $36.4m against an estimate of $30-40m.

The FC1 sale did, however, secure a world-record for the artist at auction, along with many others.

Many of the artworks came from the Pincus Collection, which now stands as the most expensive collection of Post-War and Contemporary art ever sold. The collection, which belonged to philanthropist David Pincus and his wife, Geraldine, totalled $174.9m in New York.

"I choose works because something in them speaks to me. But art is for enjoyment. You only have it for a lifetime. It doesn't belong to you," said Pincus, before the auction.

You can read Paul Fraser Collectible's preview of the sale here, for further information on the other lots on offer.

Those looking to kick-start their own art collection should view the lots on offer over at our sister company, PFC Auctions' own sale, which features this fantastic Picasso signed lithograph.

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