Three weeks ago, Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale brought in over $852.9 million (£542 million), making it the highest total in auction history. Christie’s success is widely reflected in other auction houses, who are enjoying a lucrative run that seems not to have been affected by the economic downturn of the past few years. Here are the three most expensive sales of artwork from 2014.
“Black Fire I” (1961) – Barnett Newman Sold for $84 / £53 million
Leading the list this year is American artist Barnett Newman, a renown abstract expressionist painter and sculptor from New York. His signature 1961 “Black Fire I,” a nearly three-metre tall oil on canvas piece that he painted after the death of his brother, sold for a record breaking $84 / £53 million in a private Christie’s collection in New York last May. The black and white canvas sold over double its estimated price, with Christie’s European president, Jussi Pylkkanen, winning after a fierce 2 hour and 30 minute bid.
“Triple Elvis” [Ferus Type] (1963) – Andy Warhol Sold for $81.9 / £52 million
Coming in at number two is a silk screen triptych by Andy Warhol. A one-off piece that had been off the market for 37 years hidden in a German casino, Warhol’s “Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)” caused a frenzy at the Christie’s auction last November. The triptych of Elvis Presley pointing his gun at the viewer, the auction room was floored when an anonymous phone bidder bought the 1963 piece for $81.8 / £51 million.
“Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards” (1984) – Francis Bacon Sold for $80.9 / £50 million
Another gem from the Irish-born British painter, Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards” came in third, selling for a $80.9 / £50 million at Christie’s New York auction last May. One of the 29 portraits painted by Bacon in his lifetime, this relic captured the artists’ closest companion and most trusted confidant, John Edwards, a run-of-the-mill bar manager from London’s East End, in a smear of soft brush strokes.