These 10 Paintings Just Sold for Almost $1 Billion
Given the runaway success of one painting in particular, it’s kind of unfair to compare the top 10 lots of New York’s auction mega-week: Approximately $2.3 billion of Impressionist, modern, postwar, and contemporary art was sold in five days, yes, but the numbers are skewed pretty dramatically by Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Having sold for $450.3 million at Christie’s on Wednesday, the painting, which was rediscovered in 2005, represents around 19 percent of the value of the week’s overall sales.
Remove that Leonardo from the equation and you still have solid numbers—up more than 100 percent from last year’s auctions, which tallied around $1 billion—representative of a confident, perhaps even booming, market.
But the Leonardo did sell, so we have a list of 10 paintings that gets very close to totaling $1 billion on its own. The final tally adds up to $877,721,500.
Breaking down that top 10, we have a healthy list of familiar names: Picasso, Van Gogh, Leger, Warhol, Rothko, and Chagall.
Tellingly, though, the top three lots were all painted before World War I. In total, postwar and contemporary evening auctions ($310.3 million at Sotheby’s and $785.9 million at Christie’s) might have dwarfed the Impressionist and modern evening sales ($269.6 million for Sotheby’s and $479.3 million at Christie’s, respectively), but the biggest trophies were old, rather than new.
You can see the entire top 10 here:
1. $450,312,500 for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, c. 1500