Top 10 Biggest Art Auctions of 2014



2015-06-26 11:26:01

Here are the ten most valuable artworks to cross auction blocks around the world in 2014...

10) 'Le Printemps' by Edouard Manet

(Image: Wikipedia)

The earliest work on the list is Edouard Manet's 'Le Printemps', painted in 1881. The work was one of four planned by Manet, depicting the four seasons, but just two - Les Printemps and L’Automne – were completed. Having been shipped to the U.S in 1909, the painting then spent over a century in the same family collection and two decades on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. It was sold at Christie's in New York in November for $65.1 million, the highest price ever paid for a Manet work at auction. - - - - - -

9) Untitled by Mark Rothko

(Image: Christie's)

This untitled abstract work was painted by Rothko in 1952, during one of the most important periods of the artist's career. Having struggled for years to find his "new vision", he developed his now-iconic style and produced many of his largest and most powerful paintings. This particular example was described as "vast, elemental and all-encompassing", and sold in November at Christie's in New York for $66.2 million. - - - - - -

8) Four Marlons by Andy Warhol

(Image: Christie's)

Warhol's 1966 portrait ‘Four Marlons’ features a repeating image of Brando in his most famous role of rebellious Johnny Strabler, in the 1953 classic ‘The Wild One’. Having been acquired in 1978, 'Four Marlons' was one of two Warhol works consigned to auction amidst much controversy by the German casino company WestSpiel. It sold at Christie's in New York in November for $69.6 million. - - - - - -

7) Untitled by Cy Twombly

(Image: Christie's)

This untitled work by Cy Twombly was one of the most important from the American artist's acclaimed 'Blackboard' series. Described as “the culmination of a dramatic and singular period in Twombly’s career”, it was one of the few large-scale Twombly works of its kind to remain in private hands. After spending 44 years in a private European collection, the work came to auction for the first time at Christie's in New York in November – selling for a world record price of $69.6 million. - - - - - -

6) Portrait of George Dyer Talking by Francis Bacon

(Image: Christie's)

This important Francis Bacon portrait depicted the artist's lover George Dyer – a career criminal and alcoholic described as “a spirit of mischief, touched at times by melancholia…he had been the subject, and the inspiration of some of Bacon’s greatest images." The couple's tormented relationship led to Dyer's suicide in 1971. Painted in 1969, just two years before his 1971 suicide in a Paris hotel room, the portrait was one of the few of Dyer to remain in private hands. It sold at Christie's in February for $70 million. - - - - - -

5) Tête by Amedeo Modigliani

(Image: Sotheby's)

In 1911, whilst living in Paris, the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani took limestone from a local building site and created Tête – an iconic sculpture depicting the head of a Goddess. Described as "among the most coveted works of modern art", Modigliani's stone sculpture set a new auction record for the artist when it sold in November at Sotheby's in New York for $70.7 million. - - - - - -

4) Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards by Francis Bacon

(Image: Christie's)

Bacon's 1984 triptych 'Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards' depicted the artist's partner and muse, an East End bar manager with whom Bacon shared his life for 18 years. Edwards was later named as the sole benefactor and executor to Bacon's will, overseeing his archives until his own death in 2002. Described as "one of the greatest paintings from Francis Bacon’s acclaimed Late Period", the three-part work sold in May at Christie's in New York for $80.8 million. - - - - - -

3) Triple Elvis (Ferus Type) by Andy Warhol

(Image: Christie's)

This portrait of Elvis was created by Warhol in 1963, for his landmark show at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. It was part of a series that also included ‘Eight Elvises’, which sold privately in 2008 for a then-record $100 million. Triple Elvis was the second Warhol work consigned to auction in November by the German WestSpiel casino company, having been originally purchased in 1978. It sold in New York for $81.9 million. - - - - - -

2) Black Fire I by Barnett Newman

(Image: Christie's)

The most expensive painting sold at auction in 2014 was the 1961 abstract work ‘Black Fire I’ by American artist Barnett Newman. The work was described as “a sublime Abstract Expressionist masterpiece”, and came to auction after spending 40 years in a private collection. It sold in May at Christie's in New York for $84.1 million– a new record auction price for the artist which doubled the previous record. - - - - - -

1) Chariot by Alberto Giacometti

(Image: Sotheby's)

The most valuable artwork sold at auction in 2014 was Alberto Giacometti's legendary sculpture 'Chariot'. Created in 1952, 'Chariot' was described as "one of the seminal achievements of modern art", and came to the market after almost half a century in the same collection. As one of just two examples left in private hands, and the only one hand-painted by Giacometti, the sculpture sold at Christie's in New York in November for $101 million – making it the second-most expensive sculpture of all-time. - - - - - -

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