Postwar and contemporary art is a red hot market, 'driven in part by flush new collectors and museums amassing masterpieces, as well as investors seeking diversification'. International bids from Asia, Russia, the Middle East, and other emerging markets from 'a rash of new and often state-backed museums' collecting premium pieces is driving up prices, along with investors buying art perhaps less for the aesthetic value and more solely for the financial.
“I am an art collector; this is not about collecting,” said Michael Ovitz of the Christie’s sale. “For a moment last night I thought I was in the commodities market.”
The total of both night's haul was almost $1.1 billion dollars. The upward trend for an individual sale continues from the previous record, set in 2012, for Edvard Munch's 'The Scream', which went for $119.9 million.
The Sotheby's sale, whilst not as substantial in total as Christie's, nevertheless set new world auction records for a number of artists including Andy Warhol, 'whose 1963 painting Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster), consisting of two panels depicting the aftermath of a car crash, fetched $105m, smashing the previous auction record for a Warhol – set in 2007 – by more than $30m'.
It is not known whether Ovitz purchased any pieces to augment his private collection, considered one of the finest in the world, including pieces by Ellsworth Kelly, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and an early Jasper Johns "Flag" painting, housed at his Michael Malzen designed residence.
Read the entire New York Times article, At $142.4 Million, Triptych Is the Most Expensive Artwork Ever Sold at an Auction.