The high-end art market plowed ahead in 2012 as collectors looked for alternatives to the stockmarket volatility amid the European debt crisis and concerns in the U.S. about a new budget.
The top 10 priciest lots added up to $594.6 million, a 44 percent increase from $413.6 million in 2011, according to Bloomberg calculations.
Lucrative estates and looming changes in the U.S. tax code brought trophy works to the block. Numerous artist records included Edvard Munch's "The Scream," which was crowned as themost expensive artwork at auction.
Left, Picasso's 1932 painting of his young mistress Marie-Therese Walter fetched $41.5 million at Sotheby's in New York on Nov. 8.
The canvas, "Nature Morte aux Tulipes," at once a portrait and a still life, depicted Walter's sculpted white head on a pedestal next to a bouquet of tulips and some sexually suggestive fruit. It was painted in just two and a half hours.