A $105 million Warhol top pick at Sotheby's best-ever $380 million auction

Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:42pm EST
 
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Art collectors dug deep into their pockets on Wednesday and smashed records for a second straight night as Sotheby's held the biggest auction in its history, led by a record-setting $105 million work by Andy Warhol.

The auction of post-war and contemporary art totaled $380.6 million, its highest total ever, and set new auction records for major artists Cy Twombly and Brice Marden.

Of the 61 lots on offer only seven failed to sell. The total was just shy of the $394 million high pre-sale estimate.

If it was not quite the blockbuster affair that rival Christie's staged on Tuesday, it was still an impressive result, marking the auction house's second solid success in a row after it scored with a $290 million sale of Impressionist and modern art a week ago.

The sale's expected highlight, in particular, far exceeded expectations. Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Doubled Disaster)," from his seminal death and disaster series, soared to $105,445,000 including commission, 50 percent higher than the late pop artist's previous auction record of $71.7 million.

Sotheby's did not disclose the buyer, who was bidding by telephone. It had estimated the nearly 9-by-14-foot work from 1963 to sell for "in excess of $60 million," but that figure turned out to be the opening bid.

Sotheby's officials were thrilled with the results.

"How can you not be thrilled when you make the highest total in Sotheby's history," worldwide head of contemporary art Tobias Meyer said after the sale.   Continued...

 
A Sotheby's employee poses with Andy Warhol's artwork "Silver Car Crash" at Sotheby's auction house in London in this October 11, 2013 handout photo. The artwork, initially valued at $60 million, sold at auction at Sotheby's in New York November 13, 2013 for $105,445,000. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/Files