Works by Pop Art pioneer Andy Warhol rose to the top of auction sales in 2012. Warhol's art fetched a total of $380.3 million, beating such artists as Picasso, Richter and Zhang.
According to Bloomberg, the second place in the list complied by Artnet belongs to Spaniard Pablo Picasso. His art earned $334.7 million last year as opposed to $366 million in 2011. In 2012 Picasso also lost his title of the world's most expensive artist at auction, when The Scream by Edvard Munch set the new record of $119.9 million last May.
Eighty year old German painter, Gerhard Richter, took third place, becoming the top selling living artist. Richter's art fetched $298.9 million in 2012 climbing up from sixth in 2011. A 1994 abstract painting owned by Eric Clapton sold at Sotheby's last October for $42 million, helping Richter secure his place among the top three.
Works from the Chinese ink painter Zhang Daqian, who died in 1983, faced a major decline in sales compared to 2011, when his artwork earned $782.4 million. In 2012 his work sold for a total of $241.6 million due to “economic and political uncertainty,” art dealers are quoted by Bloomberg as saying.
"Contemporary art is where the dynamic energy is at auctions," Jonathan P Binstock, senior adviser in postwar and contemporary art at Citi Private Bank Art Advisory & Finance, said in an interview. "The market is selective and concentrated on works by certain artists. The instant recognisability of masterpieces by Warhol and Richter makes them well suited to performing well."