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Arts

Will art auctions smash price records this season?

Paintings by Willem de Kooning and Edvard Munch have smashed the price records for these works at auction this week. Artworks by Picasso and Frida Kahlo are still up for grabs.

With the art auction season in full swing, "Untitled XXV" by Dutch-American artist Willem de Kooning sold Tuesday at Christie's in New York for $66.3 million. The bid set a record for a work by the abstract artist. 

Born in the Netherlands in 1904, De Kooning immigrated to the US in 1926 and became known as a champion of abstract impressionism. He created "Untitled XXV" in 1977, employing the bright, colorful brush strokes that were characteristic of his work from that period. 

A decade ago, the same work was auctioned for $27.1 million, which set a record at the time. 

De Kooning's painting is just one of the masterpieces going under the hammer this week at renowned auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's. The results of the fall auction season provide an indication of the global art market, which is seeing an increase in bidders from China as well as a steady stream from art hubs in the US, as well as in Paris and London. 

Another significant work at the auction was a painting by German artist Gerhard Richter, which had belonged to British musician Eric Clapton. "Abstract Painting" sold for just over $20 million, according to Christie's. Richter is the most expensive living artist in Germany. 

Masterpieces left to buy 

Earlier this week, "Girls on the Bridge" (1902) by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch fetched $54.4 million at Sotheby's in New York, making it Munch's second-most expensive work sold. In 2012, his "The Scream" became the priciest artwork ever sold at an auction, going for $119.9. 

The distinction of most-expensive auctioned artwork, as shown in the gallery above, is now held by Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)," which went for $179.4 million last year. 

Also this week, Christie's is auctioning works by US pop artist Andy Warhol and ceramics by Pablo Picasso. 

A rediscovered painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is estimated to fetch between $1.5 and $2 million next week at Sotheby's. The 1929 portrait, "Girl With Necklace," appears to portray a young Kahlo, though the unsmiling model is unknown. 

Kahlo's husband, artist Diego Rivera, had given the painting to Kahlo's personal assistant after she died in 1955. The owner kept it in her darkened bedroom in California for over 60 years before it resurfaced this past summer. 

Record crowds, if not record prices

This past weekend, Sotheby's in London auctioned off the private art collection of David Bowie, who passed away in January. Sales totaled over $41 million, which didn't set any art price records, although the auction drew recording crowds. 

Over 51,000 visitors - the highest attendance for any pre-sale exhibition in London - came to see the works by Damien Hirst, Henry Moore, Marcel Duchamp and others before they went under the hammer. 

kbm/eg (AP, AFP) 


 

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