Christie’s minted £3.9bn in 2012

Christie’s minted £3.9bn in 2012

By LAKSHMAN MENON | LONDON | 19 January, 2013
Francis Bacon’s “sexually-charged” painting “Portrait of Henrietta Moraes” was sold for £21.3 million.
As the super rich splash out on art lavishly.

For millions, 2012 was a bleak year financially. As Europe and America remained mired in recession, families cut down their living expenses cut out their holidays. But the rich, or more accurately, the beyond rich, 2012 presented an opportunity to pump up the volume, on art. Christie's, the London based auctioneers, sold a record £3.9 billion of arts and "collectibles". The most lucrative segment was the post-war and living artists' category. The ten most expensive works sold included the artist Francis Bacon's painting "Portrait of Henrietta Moraes", which one critic has unkindly compared to a specimen of an overweight woman in formaldehyde. Notwithstanding such a harsh judgement, the painting sold for £21.3 million including fees. Jeff Koons' polished stainless steel "Tulips" sold for $33.681 million including fees. Franz Kline's untitled monochrome painting (untitled with good reason, snorted an irate critic), easily outstripped its lower sales estimate of $20 million to soar over $40 million. Any Warhol earned a further 15 minutes of posthumous fame when his collage "Statue of Liberty" sold for over $43.7 million including fees. But setting the world auction record for a post-war work of art was Mark Rothko's painting "Red, Orange, Yellow". The painting, which perhaps unsurprisingly, is painted red, orange and yellow, more than doubled its lower sales estimate to fetch nearly $87 million with fees.

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