An abstract canvas by Mark Rothko sold for $75 million leading Sotheby’s record-setting contemporary-art sale in New York. The auction fetched a total of jaw-dropping $375 million.
The sellers, a former Sotheby’s president John Marion and his wife, expected the 1954 Rothko painting “No. 1 (Royal Red & Blue)" to go for a maximum of $50 million.
Bidders went beyond expectations with the painting eventually selling for $75 million. Sotheby’s specialist Charlie Moffett who works with American collectors placed the winning bid.
The sale made the artwork the second most expensive Rothko sold at auctions outrunning his "White Center (Yellow/Pink/Lavender)” 1950 piece that fetched $72.8 million in 2007.
Earlier this year another Rothko painting "Orange, Red, Yellow" (1961) sold for $86.9 million.
Apart from Rothko, Sotheby's sale offered a list of other coveted contemporary artworks from the collection of department-store magnate Sidney Kohl and his wife. Those included Jackson Pollock’s "Number 4, 1951," that fetched $40.4 million, a $19.6 million Willem de Kooning’s "Abstraction," and Clyfford Still’s "1948-H" that sold for $9.8 million.
Also on offer were works by British painter Francis Bacon, German artist Gerhard Richter, American Jean-Michel Basquiat and other important artists of the 20th century.
Russian collectors were not very active this time around, Sotheby’s said.