Jackson Pollock - Number 19, 1948

Jackson Pollock
"Number 19, 1948"
Sold for $58,363,750 (£38,520,075 / €45,523,725)

Jean-Michel Basquiat - Dustheads

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Sold for $48,843,750 (£32,236,875/ € 38,098,125)

Christie’s Contemporary Art sale achieves $495 million

On May 15th, 2013, Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale achieved a staggering $495,021,500 (£326,714,190 / €386,116,770), highest total on auction history.

May 16 2013, source: Christie’s

The important grouping of Abstract Expressionist works led the sale, most of all the iconic "Number 19, 1948" by Jackson Pollock, which sold for $58,363,750 (£38,520,075 / €45,523,725), the highest price ever fetched for the artist at auction. Painted during Pollock’s most important period of 1947-1949, this jewel-like work was singled out by Clement Greenberg who declared, “Number Nineteen seemed more than enough to justify the claim that Pollock is one of the major painters of our time.” This picture, which came from a prestigious American foundation, was the object of a fierce bidding battle from collectors in the saleroom and on the telephone.

Roy Lichtenstein’s 1963 "Woman with Flowered Hat", a classic Pop picture from the movement’s heyday, sold for $56,123,750 (£37,041,675/ €43,776,525), while the artist’s 1994 "Nude with Yellow Flower", which triumphantly revisits his iconic comic book heroine, sold for $23,643,750 (£15,604,875/ € 18,442,125).

The international demand for works by contemporary artists was extremely strong; especially the highly-anticipated "Dustheads" by Jean-Michel Basquiat. This euphoric masterpiece captures the expressionist zeitgeist of the 1980s in New York. The price, which skyrocketed to $48,843,750 (£32,236,875/ € 38,098,125) — a new world auction record for the artist — defeated the $26.4 million achieved by Christie’s in November 2012.

Strong prices were realized for works by European master painters, notably Piero Manzoni’s "Achrome", an outstanding masterpiece that epitomizes the Italian artist’s best known series. It sold for a world auction record price of $14,123,750 (£9,321,675/ €11,016,525) to a European collector. Gerhard Richter’s vibrant "Abstraktes Bild, Dunkel (613-2)" also sold well, fetching $21,963,750 (£14,496,075/ €17,131,725), which exceeded its high estimate.

Related content

Basquiat's 'Untitled' could break record at Christie's (news, November 2012)

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