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Pollock painting fetches record $11.7M
Pollock's drip painting and Warhol's $7M self-portrait set record evening for modern art.
May 13, 2004: 11:35 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN) - A pair of auctions in Manhattan grossed close to $170 million Wednesday night, a record evening for modern art sales that also established record prices for a number of American artists, including abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.

Christie's grossed $102.1 million in its strongest post-war and contemporary art sale ever -- including the sale of a medium-sized 1949 Pollock drip painting, "Number 12," for $11.65 million, and a large self-portrait by Andy Warhol that sold for $6.95 million. The final prices and totals reflect auction house commissions of 12 percent.

A record price was also paid for a work by Chuck Close -- $2.8 million for "Gwynne," one of his trademark, oversized, black-and-white close-up portraits, from 1982.

The Pollack belonged to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), but the buyer was anonymous. It exceeded the previous record for the artist by $100,000.

MOMA has sold nine Impressionist and modern paintings through Christie's during the past week for close to $29 million.

Sotheby's (BID: down $0.01 to $13.55, Research, Estimates) grossed close to $66 million Thursday in the sale of 58 works, including 22 for more than $1 million, such as a paintings by Roy Lichtenstein ($4.8 million) and Jasper Johns ($3.1 million).

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Lower but record prices nonetheless were established for 13 artists, the best known being pop artist James Rosenquist, recently the subject of a Guggenheim Museum retrospective, the late Keith Haring, as well as Sol Lewitt, Claes Oldenburg, and Ellsworth Kelly.

"There were masterpieces in the sale and good paintings. All found buyers this evening," said Sotheby's auctioneer Tobias Meyer. "When you sell everything it tells you something about the market, but what was most interesting was the depth of bidding. Nearly every lot drew multiple bidders, both seasoned buyers and new collectors."

Sotheby's last week set a world auction record for a single painting when it sold Pablo Picasso's Rose Period "Boy with a Pipe" from 1905 to an anonymous bidder for $104 million.  Top of page

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