Mark Rothko painting fetches $75.1 million at New York auction

Paula David – Fourth Estate Cooperative Reporter

New York, NY, United States (4E) – Mark Rothko’s painting led Tuesday’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s in New York at a staggering $75.1 million, the highest price a Rothko painting has ever fetched.

The 1954 painting, titled ‘No. 1 (Royal red and Blue)’ has remained in Sotheby’s collection for 30 years and was expected to fetch between $30 and $35 million during the sale. It was bought by an unnamed buyer against five other bids.

Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s, said, “The Rothko was the undisputed highlight of the evening, surpassing the Rockefeller Rothko to become the second highest price ever achieved for the artist at auction. The wonderful consignment from the Collection of Sidney and Dorothy Kohl brought more than $100 million, led by the Jackson Pollock, which sold for $40.4 million, well above expectations. If you are looking for evidence that today’s market is alive and well, look no further.”

Meanwhile, Alexander Rotter, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art department in New York commented, “We were thrilled to achieve great results on behalf of our consignors tonight, in an auction that showed just how vibrant the market is. We were especially encouraged by the strong depth of bidding from around the world on works 2 like the Rothko, Bacon and many more. In addition to the great prices achieved for paintings by the Abstract Expressionists, Warhol was the other star of the night. His works together achieved $54 million, well over their $35 million low estimate, and included the incredibly important Suicide that brought a price nearly three times the previous auction record for a work on paper by the artist.”

The successful art sale also sold Willem de Kooning’ 1949 Abstraction for $19.6 million, Jason Pollock’s 1951 Number 4, Francis Bacon’s Untitled (Pope) for $29.7 million and Andy Warhol’s works including Green Disaster (Green Disaster Twice).

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