Sotheby's, Rothko and Pollock: A record breaking evening

What a difference a few days make. Last week, Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art sale in Manhattan was a cautious evening of purchases, with 30 per cent of items not finding a buyer.
While Pablo Picasso’s Nature Morte Aux Tulipes did much to make the night memorable – it eventually went for $41.5 million (approximately £26.1 million) – there was a strange feeling in the air. Was it unease? Confusion? Fatigue?
It proved to be none of the above because Sotheby’s ensuing contemporary art sale on November 13th finished in spectacular style – it recorded the best sales it has ever had in any category in its entire history.
The auction house raised a commanding $375 million (approximately £236 million) that evening in New York, boosted by equally unprecedented sales of works by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock.
The former’s No 1 (Royal Red and Blue) was snapped up for $75.1 million (£47.2 million), another statement of fact that Rothko is on everyone’s wishlist, while the latter’s Number 4 smashed the previous record for Pollock at auction, going under the hammer for $40.4 million (£25.4 million).
“Tonight’s record results bring our 2012 total to well over $1 billion, and we still have tomorrow’s day auction, as well as our upcoming sale in Paris,” commented, Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s. “If you are looking for evidence that today’s market is alive and well, look no further.”
Alexander Rotter, head of Sotheby’s contemporary art department in New York, said that he remains encouraged by the fact that so many of the bidders reflected the diversity of the global art market. This is a remarkable era, especially for post-war art.
Though abstract expressionist works dominated the evening, Andy Warhol was also on fine form. Altogether, the pop art master achieved $54 million (£34 million). Warhol remains very bankable.
Cadogan Tate specialises in fine art shipping, fine art storage and art logistics, helping galleries, museums and collectors manage their collections.