£54m Mark Rothko Breaks Contemporary Art Auction Record

Before last night the price of $86.3 million, paid for Francis Bacon’s ‘Triptych’, 1976, in 2008 was the most expensive post-war artwork ever sold at auction. But now Mark Rothko’s Orange, red, yellow has been sold for $86.9 million (£53.8m). Wow. The painting was executed in 1961, and was sold at Christie’s in New York. The monumental sale contributed to the auction house’s total takings of $388.5m (£240.5m), breaking their personal contemporary art record set in 2007.

Last night’s sale was also a personal best for Mark Rothko, with the most being paid for one of his works at auction previously being $72.84m (£45m). Another £10m: not bad. And last night, a number of records were set for other artists. Yves Klein’s FC1 went for $36.5m (£22.6m).  Jackson Pollock’s Number 28 fetched $23m (£14.2m). And an untitled work by Willem de Kooning went for $14.1m (£8.7m).

It must be something in the water. Only last week, the auction of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ lived up to all the hype, selling for an incredible $119.9 million – the most expensive piece of art to ever sell at auction, smashing the previous record held by Picasso’s ‘Nude, Green Leaves and Bust’, which went under the hammer for $106.5 million.

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