Why artworks are selling for over $100 million | Arts | DW | 10.11.2015
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Why artworks are selling for over $100 million

As Modigliani's "Reclining Nude" just fetched the second-highest sum for a painting at an auction, find out why art market prices are soaring and which other artworks make up the top 10 most expensive.

If you are scratching your head trying to figure out why in the world someone would pay over $170 million (159 million euros) for a single painting, you're probably not among the new ultra-rich looking for a safe investment amidst the rocky financial market.

At an auction held on Monday night (09.11.2015), Modigliani's "Reclining Nude" fetched the second highest sum ever at auction, reaching $170.4 million (158.7 million euros). The bidding did not last even 10 minutes, but each minute was filled with action - and when the sale was concluded, the packed room erupted in applause, Christie's reported.

Earlier this year, Picasso's "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)" went under the hammer for an extra $9 million on top of that price - and it now holds the world record.

The prices for artworks have been soaring over the last decade, despite turbulence in the financial world. As this last record sale demonstrates, auction houses are now developing in new markets such as China and India, where first-time buyers are developing an interest in investing in art.

These prices are not set in a rational way. The famous art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi demonstrated some of the failures of the art market by reproducing paintings and getting them sold at high prices for years before he was exposed.

With the rich getting richer, this trend of record-breaking sums spent on art might not slow down any time soon. In a DW interview, art gallery owner Hans Mayer explains why he does not believe that the art market is about to overheat: "There's more money than there are good artworks and artists."

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