This year was a year of art sale records. Records for individual artists, records for living artists, records for American artists and records for items sold at auction. Prices for paintings, sculptures, and drawings skyrocketed into the millions, dropping the jaws of anyone who's not a hedge fund manager, casino tycoon or member of the Qatari royal family.
Alas, like years past, art auction results of 2013 show a persisting pattern: DWMA (dead white male artists) continue to dominate the field, with the Monets and Picassos filling the record ranks, while the Kusamas and Bourgeois trail behind. Perhaps art sales really are becoming "competitions over whose penis is larger," as a recent Huff Post Live panel debated.
While we mull over the dissatisfying trend, here are 19 of the most expensive works sold at auction (or in private) this year. Let us know your thoughts on the
nauseating eyebrow-raising numbers in the comments.
1. Claude Monet's "L'lle aux Orties": $8.1 Million
To start off the list, we have Monet's 1897 oil painting, which sold for a humble $8.1 million at Christie's in New York City this past November.
2. Edward Hopper's "Blackwell's Island":$19.2 Million
Want a landscape painting depicting Roosevelt Island (before it was renamed for our 32nd president)? You would have needed to drop about $19 million at Christie's in New York City last May.
3. Wassily Kandinksy's "Studie zu Improvisation 3": $21.2 Million
This 1909 painting is an early manifestation of Kandinsky's "Improvisations" series, in which the artist transformed the visual world into mesmerizing configurations of color and shape. It cost someone a cool $21.2 million at Christie's in London this past June.
4. Willem de Kooning's "Untitled VIII": $32.1 Million
This 1977 de Kooning work became his most expensive auction offering, selling for $32.1 million at Christie's in New York City this past November.
5. Gerhard Richter's "Cathedral Square, Milan": $37 Million
Sold at Sotheby's in London this past May, this is Richter's priciest piece yet.
6. Edward Hopper's "East Wind Over Weehawken": $40.5 Million
This 1934 work depicts a streetscape of the New Jersey city across the Hudson River from New York. It was estimated to fetch around $22 million to $28 million at Christie's in New York City this December, but ended up selling just north of $40 million, making it the most expensive Hopper ever sold at auction.
7. Amedeo Modigliani's "Jeanne Hebuterne (au chapeau)": $42.1 Million
This pricey painting, which sold for $42.1 million at a London Sotheby's auction last February, has a tragic story behind it. The work depicts Modigliani's common law wife, a woman who committed suicide, killing herself and her unborn child just one day after the artist himself died at the tender age of 35.
8. Pablo Picasso's "Femme Assise Pres d'une Fenetre (Woman Sitting Near a Window): $44.9 Million
The running price for a 1932 portrait of Picasso's "golden muse," Marie-Therese Walter? About $44.9 million, according to a February Sotheby's sale in London.
9. Norman Rockwell's "Saying Grace": $46 Million
Two telephone bidders competed for nine minutes before the hammer came down on "Saying Grace" this December at Sotheby's in New York. The final price beat out the pre-sale estimate of $15 million to $20 million by a long shot.
10. Mark Rothko's "Untitled (No. 11)": $46.1 Million
Expected to grab around $35 to $45 million, this orange and white canvas was sold for an impressive $46.1 million at Christies in New York City this past November.
11. Jean-Michel Basquiat's "Dustheads": $48.4 Million
Another Record! The above went for $48.4 million at Christie's in New York City last May, becoming Basquiat's most expensive artwork ever sold.
12. Roy Lichtenstein's "Woman with Flowered Hat": $56.1 Million
What looks like a mangled Queen portrait from a surreal deck of cards is actually a Lichtenstein that sold for $56.1 million this past May at Christie's in New York City.
13. Andy Warhol's “Coca-Cola ": $57.2 Million
It may just look like a simple, retro Coca Cola advertisement -- and hey, it basically is -- but the familiar black-and-white pop piece is actually an iconic painting by the one and only Andy Warhol. And it cost someone over $57 million to nab it this past November at a New York City Christie's auction.
14. Jackson Pollock's "Number 19": $58.3 Million
This particular drip painting left the bidding block for $58.3 million at Christie's in New York City this May. Doesn't even come close to the $140 million Pollock artwork that switched hands in a private sale in 2006.
15. Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog (Orange)": $58.4 Million
It wouldn't be a pricey auction listicle without at least one of Koons' shiny balloon animals. This one cost a lucky buyer just over $58 million at a Christie's auction in New York City this past November.
16. Andy Warhol's "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)": $105 Million
Though it was overshadowed by an even bigger sale at the same Christie's postwar and contemporary sale this November in New York City, "Silver Car Crash" broke records as the most expensive Warhol ever sold at auction.
17. Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud": $142 Million
This 1969 painting by the late Irish painter Francis Bacon sold for a whopping $142 million this November at Christie's in New York City, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction (inflation not taken into consideration). Move over Munch, there's a new scream-worthy painting in town.
18. Pablo Picasso's "Le Rêve": $155 Million
According to Bloomberg, American hedge fund manager Steven Cohen bought Pablo Picasso’s “Le Reve” for $155 million from casino owner Steve Wynn. The private sale happened in March of 2013. That is one pricey dream.
Check out last year's figures below.
ARTIST: Russian abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) ARTWORK: Oil painting of religious pilgrims in Kiev painted in 1909. AUCTION: Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $23,042,500 For more on the Kandinsky painting, check out our original article here.
ARTIST: New York-bred graffiti-turned-gallery painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). ARTWORK: A large, colorful acrylic and oil stick on canvas work depicting a skeletal fisherman yielding his loot, created in 1981. AUCTION: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $26,402,500 for more on Basquiat's painting, check out our original article here.
ARTIST: British figurative painter, Francis Bacon (1909-1992). ARTWORK: One of Bacon's "Pope" paintings, which depict the Bishop of Rome sitting atop his papal throne with his mouth agape, seemingly writhing in a fit of terror. Created circa 1954. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $29,762,500 For more on Bacon's "Pope" check out our original article here.
ARTIST: British sculptor, Henry Moore (1898-1986). ARTWORK: A 6-foot-long bronze sculpture depicting a laid-back female figure resting on one elbow, created in 1951. AUCTION: Christie's Impressionist / Modern Art Evening Sale (February 2012) PRICE: £19,081,250 (approximately $30.1 million) IMAGE: A gallery assistant at Christie's auction house admires a sculpture by Henry Moore entitled 'Reclining Figure: Festival' on February 2, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
ARTIST: American neo-pop artist and "Balloon Dog" extraordinaire, Jeff Koons (1955-present). ARTWORK: A large-scale, mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture with transparent color coating created between 1995 and 2004. AUCTION: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $33,682,500
ARTIST: Abstract and photorealist painter Gerhard Richter (1932-present). ARTWORK: A squeegee painting created in 1994 and owned by famous British musician, Eric Clapton. It was bought by Clapton for £2million ($3.2 million) in 2001 and sold for 10 times the price tag 11 years later. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (October 2012) PRICE: £21,321,250 (approximately $34.2 million) For more on Eric Clapton's big sale, check out our original article here. IMAGE: A Sotheby's employee stands in front of Gerhard Richter's 'Abstraktes Bild (809-)' painting on October 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ARTIST: British Romantic artist, John Constable (1776-1837). ARTWORK: The fifth in a celebrated series of six large-scale paintings of the Stour Valley in Suffolk. AUCTION: Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale PRICE: $35,210,321 IMAGE: Employees pose with a painting by British Romantic artist John Constable entitled "The Lock" at Christie's auction house in central London on June 12, 2012. (CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)
ARTIST: Abstract expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). ARTWORK: A rare drip painting on canvas created in 1951. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $40,402,500 Image: Sotheby's employees hold Jackson Pollock's 'Number 4, 1951' on October 8, 2012 in London, England. Estimated at $25-35 million the work forms part of Sotheby's Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art sale on November 5, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ARTIST: French post-war artist, Yves Klein, who is well-known for his devotion to the color blue (1928-1962). ARTWORK: Natural sponges and pebbles soaked in pigment and scattered on a board. Named "The Pink of Blue", the sponge-relief is similar to Klein's other works created in International Klein Blue. It was finished in 1960. AUCTION: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale (June 2012) PRICE: $36,779,111
ARTIST: Spanish Cattelan artist, Joan Miro (1893-1993). ARTWORK: Oil on cavas work depicting Miro's typical Surrealist imagery created in 1927. AUCTION: Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale (June 2012) PRICE: $36,946,396 IMAGE: Gallery assistants pose with Spanish Catalan artist Joan Miro's 'Peinture (Etolie Bleue), 1927' at Sotheby's acution house in central London on June 14, 2012. (LEON NEAL/AFP/GettyImages)
ARTIST: Pop art king, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) ARTWORK: A silver silkscreen image of Elvis Presley depicted as a cowboy. The work, created in 1963, is named for the duplicate screening of Elvis that appears to the left of the central figure. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (May 2012) PRICE: $37,042,500 For more on Warhol's "Double Elvis," check out the original AP story here. IMAGE: This undated file image provided by Sotheby's Auction House shows Andy Warhol's portrait of Elvis Presley depicted as a cowboy. The painting, with a silver background, Double Elvis [Ferus Type] sold at auction by Sothebys in New York for $37 million on May 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Sotheby's Auction House, File)
ARTIST: Abstract expressionist and contemporary of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline (1910-1962). ARTWORK: The untitled piece belongs to the series of black and white abstractions for which Kline is known, combining aggressive brushstrokes with simple forms reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy. AUCTION: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $40,402,500 For more on Kline's calligraphic work, check out our original article here.
ARTIST: Andy Warhol, again. ARTWORK: This time it's a screen print of the State of Liberty, created in 1962. AUCTION: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $43,762,500
ARTIST: French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet (1840-1926). ARTWORK: A work from Monet's "Water Lilies" series, depicting a pond in Giverny, France. Created in 1905. AUCTION: Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $43,762,500 To read more about Monet's "Water Lilies", check out the original AP article here.
ARTIST: Francis Bacon, again. ARTWORK: Oil on canvas work created in 1976. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (May 2012) PRICE: $44,882,500
ARTIST: Famous American pop artist and major Ben-Day dot fan, (1923-1997) ARTWORK: Part of a series of sexy comic book-inspired images Lichtenstein created in 1964. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (May 2012) PRICE: $44,882,500 IMAGE: This undated file photo provided by Sotheby's Auction House in New York shows "Sleeping Girl" by artist Roy Lichtenstein. The painting sold for $44.8 million by Sotheby's on Wednesday May 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Sotheby's, File)
ARTIST: Renaissance painter, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael (1483-1520). ARTWORK: A drawing titled "Head of a Young Apostle" that depicts one of the primary figures from Raphael's "Transfigurations." Created circa 1519-1520. AUCTION: Sotheby's Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale (December 2012) PRICE: Approximately $47,690,717
ARTIST: Russian-American abstract painter, and lover of all things color-blocked, Mark Rothko. ARTWORK: A multi-form oil painting reminiscent of most of Rothko's later work. Created in 1954. AUCTION: Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale (November 2012) PRICE: $75,122,500
ARTIST: Marky Mark, again. ARTWORK: Another multi-form, of course. This one was created in 1961. AUCTION: Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale (May 2012) PRICE: $86,882,500 IMAGE: In this undated file photo provided by Christie's Auction House, "Orange, Red, Yellow," a 1956 painting by Mark Rothko is shown. The painting was sold by Christie's in New York for $388.5 million on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Sotheby's Auction Housse, File)
ARTIST: Edvard Munch, the Norwegian painter and printmaker known for his treatment of dark, psychological motifs (1863-1944). ARTWORK: This version of the iconic piece, "The Scream," is not a painting but is pastel on board. It was created in 1895. AUCTION: Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale (May 2012) PRICE: $119,922,500, making this version of "The Scream" the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. IMAGE: In this undated photo provided by Sothebys Auction House in New York, The Scream, by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch is shown. The 1895 pastel on board, arguably one of the art world's most recognizable images, will go on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York beginning Oct. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Sothebys Auction House)
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included Damien Hirst's "Beautiful Cannibalistic Electofetish Fighting in the Lava Beds Who Got Eyeballs." That painting sold for $90,196 after premium at Bonham's and therefore does not make our list. The post also incorrectly listed Mark Rothko's "Untitled (No. 11)" price as $86 million, it has since been corrected.