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Rothko abstract sells for $82.5 mln, Pollock sale is record for artist

The identity of the buyer was not known but it provoked fierce phone bidding from people representing Asian clients.

By: Reuters | New York |
November 18, 2021 12:00:59 pm
Mark Rothko, Mark Rothko famous works, Mark Rothko art auctionMark Rothko’s transcendent masterpiece No. 7 from 1951, that ultimately fetched $82.5 million. (Photo: Sotheby's/Instagram)

A Mark Rothko painting sold for $82.5 million at auction on Monday, the second-highest price for a work by the late abstract artist.

Titled, “No.7,” the 95 in (241 cm) high canvas painted in 1951 in bands of green, crimson and lavender, had been expected to sell for $70 million to $90 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

It was the first time the painting had come to auction.

The identity of the buyer was not known but it provoked fierce phone bidding from people representing Asian clients.

The record for a Rothko was set in 2012 when “Orange, red, yellow” sold for $86.9 million at Christie’s in New York.

 

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The Rothko work was just one of dozens by leading artists up for auction from the Macklowe Collection, acquired by real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda over 45 years. A New York judge ordered them to sell the collection and split the proceeds during their 2018 divorce trial.

Other works sold on Monday included the 1947 sculpture “Le Nez” by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, the world’s most expensive sculptor. It fetched $78.4 million on Monday, below the $141.3 million record for any sculpture that was set in 2015 for Giacometti’s “L’homme au doigt.”

Andy Warhol’s “Nine Marilyns” silkscreen from 1962, made shortly after Marilyn Monroe’s death, went for $48.5 million while the pop artist’s “Sixteen Jackies” tribute to former U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in black, white and blue tones sold for $33.9 million.

 

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Jackson Pollock’s “Number 17, 1951” fetched a new record for the late abstract U.S. artist at $61.2 million, while in its first appearance at auction, Cy Twombly’s vast 2007 “Untitled” work of abstract red peonies sold for $58.9 million.

Sotheby’s said the 65 works in the Macklowe Collection represent “an unrivalled ensemble that charts the high points of Western artistic achievement of the last 80 years.

“The auction was split into two parts, with the remaining 40 or so works of to be sold in May 2022.

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