Two Warhols fetch $153 million to lead Christie's record-setting art auction

Thu Nov 13, 2014 4:20pm EST
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Christie's held the biggest art auction in history on Wednesday, selling $853 million worth of contemporary and post-war art, led by a pair of Andy Warhol works featuring multiple images of Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando.

The impressive haul beat Christie's high pre-sale estimate of $836 million. It was the fourth successive time since May 2013 that the auction house's post-war and contemporary sale broke the record for the highest-ever total of a single sale.

A bidding war drove Warhol's "Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" to $81.9 million, while "Four Marlons" fetched $69.6 million to lead the sale of 80 works in a packed saleroom where only five works failed to find buyers.

Christie's had estimated the silkscreen-on-linen Warhols would together sell for more than $130 million, which turned out to be conservative in the intensely competitive market.

"This is a market driven by global collectors who are looking for the best of the best," said Brett Gorvy, international head of post-war and contemporary art.

"More than about records, it's about five, six or seven buyers competing to spend 50 or 60 million dollars on an object."

A new record was set for Cy Twombly, when an untitled 1970 work soared far beyond the $35 million to $55 million estimate to $69.6 million, more than tripling the old record.

Records were also set for Ed Ruscha, Martin Kippenberger and Cindy Sherman at the blockbuster sale, which capped two weeks of key fall auctions for powerhouses Christie's and Sotheby's.   Continued...

A woman walks between "Triple Elvis" and  "Four Marlons" by Andy Warhol during a media preview at Christie's auction house in New York, October 31, 2014.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid