Sotheby’s contemporary art auction in New York last night saw massive sales of works by Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Roy Lichtenstein, and Ai Weiwei, with the latter two making record-breaking sums.
Andy Warhol’s ‘Double Elvis’ silkscreen sold for a massive $37m (£23m), Roy Lichtenstein’s Sleeping Girl made $44.9m, while Ai Weiwei’s handmade porcelain Sunflower Seeds ratcheted up to $782,500. Francis Bacon’s ‘Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror’ sold for $44,882,500.
The Warhol work is one of 22 images of Elvis Presley dressed as a cowboy, and actually fell short of its high estimate of $50m. It also falls well short of his personal best $71.7m – the sum paid for his ‘Green Car Crash Green Burning Car I’ in 2007.
Roy Lichtenstein’s Sleeping Girl is inspired by comic book imagery, and was created in the 1960s. It was put on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 1989-90, and was brought to auction by the founding members of MOCA Beatrice and Phillip Gersh.
Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds is basically a miniature version of the memorable work that filled the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. This particular work is in an edition of 10, and it went for a record-breaking price, putting a significant margin between it and the previous record of $657,000.
Francis Bacon’s work went for an impressive sum, but was no match to the artist’s previous record of $86.2m – which up until Tuesday night was the highest pice ever paid for a contemporary artwork at auction. The new record is held by Mark Rothko, for the a-typically uninspiring Orange, Red, Yellow, which sold for $86.8m.
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