Christie’s Sets New World Record with $745 Million Contemporary Art Sale

Earlier this week, Christie’s New York saw its highest auction total ever, raking in an astounding $744.9 million during its Contemporary Art Sale. Featuring artwork by Lucas Samaras, Joseph Cornell, Alexander Calder, Robert Gober, Salvatore Scarpitta, Barnett Newman, Martin Puryear, Frank Stella, Robert Mangold and Joan Mitchell, is now considered the most expensive single auction in history.

"Black Fire I" by Barnett Newman
“Black Fire I” by Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman‘s “Black Fire I” was the top-selling piece of the evening, going for an impressive $84.2 million. “Newman wanted to handle the raw canvas, relative to the black, in such a way that it would ‘become color’ and possess its own sense of light,” according to a profile of the artist by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Last year, his painting “Onement VI,” set a new world record when it sold during a Sotheby’s auction for $43.8 million.

"Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards" by Francis Bacon
“Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards” by Francis Bacon

The auction also featured Francis Bacon‘s “Three Slides of Lucian Freud,” which sold for $80.8 million. Christie’s Deputy Chairman in Asia made the winning bid on behalf of an anonymous phone buyer in Asia.

According to Christie’s, this year’s Contemporary Art sale included bidders from more than 35 countries, illustrating the growing appetite for contemporary art across the global marketplace. “Great masterpieces inspire great collectors from every generation,” Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, said in a statement. “From the highest number of visitors to our online space to the 12,500 people visiting our public exhibitions, from the volume of bidders in the sales themselves to the significant number of new artist records set, we are seeing unprecedented momentum in the market as the desire to connect with great art continues to grow.”