The Most Costly Artworks in 2021

Most Costly Artworks.


After the COVID-sparked chaos of 2020, there was cause for hope heading into 2021. In-person occasions appeared poised to return, a chance that may kickstart an artwork world that had scrambled to search out replacements for the expertise of viewing artwork in individual.

The yr ended up being an expertise in compromises, incorporating each COVID-necessitated distance and bouts of proximity when potential, however the secondary market appeared unequivocally more healthy compared to the prior yr.

Tons as soon as once more rose above the $100 million mark after failing to take action in 2020 for the primary time in years, and new entrants within the realm of crypto-backed NFTs signaled hope for the longer term.

The costliest artworks offered at public sale in 2021 could also be largely dominated by acquainted faces—male artists from the nineteenth and Twentieth centuries—however which may be a sign that we’re coming again to enterprise as standard, for higher or worse.

Pablo Picasso, Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), 1932. Courtesy of Christie’s Photographs Ltd.

The costliest work offered at public sale this yr—and the one one to interrupt the $100 million mark—was Pablo Picasso’s 1932 portrait Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), which offered for $103.4 million at a Christie’s New York sale in Could.

The brilliant-hued portray of Picasso’s muse Marie-Thérèse Walter bounded previous one other portrait of a lover, 1941’s Dora Maar au chat—which offered for $95.2 million in 2006—to nab the fifth-highest public sale consequence for the artist.

Femme assise had beforehand come up for public sale in 2013, when it offered at Sotheby’s London for $44.7 million; earlier than that, it had offered for $6.8 million in 1997.

This newest hammer worth represents a rise of greater than 1,400% from the portray’s unique worth at public sale, and bodes nicely for the modernist icon’s market.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, In This Case, 1983. Courtesy of Christie’s Photographs Ltd.

Christie’s marquee spring gross sales had been additionally witness to the second-highest results of the yr, when Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1983 masterwork In This Case fetched $93.1 million on the public sale home’s Twenty first-century night sale.

In This Case is the final of Basquiat’s iconic trinity of “Cranium” work, which he produced between 1981 and 1983.

The one different “Cranium” portray to return to public sale, 1982’s Untitled, offered for greater than $110 million in 2017—a consequence that also holds as Basquiat’s public sale file and as the costliest work by an American artist at public sale.

In This Case didn’t fairly attain these heights, however its mixture of wealthy reds, signature symbology, and, after all, the enduring cranium motif was sufficient to push it previous all earlier work supplied by the artist.

Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a younger man holding a roundel, ca. 1470–80. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Most Costly Artworks

One of many final privately owned Sandro Botticelli work hit the public sale block this yr, and made a splash doing so.

Portrait of a younger man holding a roundel began the yr off on a excessive word when it offered for $92.1 million at a January Sotheby’s sale, a greater than ninefold improve over the Early Renaissance painter’s earlier file of $10.4 million, achieved in 2013.

The piece got here from the gathering of the late actual property mogul Sheldon Solow, who purchased the work for $1.3 million at a Christie’s public sale in 1982.

Roundel’s stratospheric sale not solely made it Botticelli’s new public sale file: The work is now additionally the second-most costly Previous Grasp portray ever offered, trailing solely Leonardo’s earth-shattering Salvator Mundi, which is at present the costliest paintings ever offered.

Mark Rothko, No. 7, 1951. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Mark Rothko’s No. 7 was delivered to public sale as a part of Sotheby’s sale devoted to the gathering of the just lately divorced Harry and Linda Macklowe.

Most Costly Artworks

The Macklowes put up some 65 complete prized works by icons together with Rothko, Andy Warhol, and Lucio Fontana in an effort to extra precisely account for the pair’s funds as they head into divorce proceedings.

This beautiful Rothko nabbed the very best consequence from the gathering, promoting for $82.4 million—making it the artist’s second-highest sale ever, trailing solely Orange, Purple, Yellow (1961), which offered for $86.8 million in 2012.

The 35 items introduced on this iteration of the Macklowe sale—the remaining will likely be offered in Could 2022—mixed to promote for greater than $675 million, beating out the gathering’s excessive estimate of $619 million and attaining a uncommon white-glove sale, with each lot offered.

Alberto Giacometti, Le Nez, 1947. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
One other work from the Macklowe assortment, this haunting suspended sculpture by Alberto Giacometti landed squarely inside its estimated worth vary to promote for $78.4 million, attaining the second-highest worth of the night.

Le Nez, with its beguiling mixture of distended but nonetheless humanlike options and distinctive hanging presentation, helped push the sculpture into the highest 5 costs for a Giacometti work at public sale, beating out a 2010 sale of a sculpture for $53.2 million to nab the fourth-highest spot; Giacometti’s high three outcomes are all in extra of $100 million.

Le Nez offered to the 31-year-old cryptocurrency baron Justin Solar, who plans to donate the work to his ongoing NFT basis challenge, which is concentrated on establishing well-known artworks and artists on the NFT blockchain.

Vincent van Gogh, Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès, 1889. Courtesy of Christie’s Photographs Ltd.

This enchanting panorama by Vincent van Gogh was the breakaway excessive results of a Christie’s sale of the late oil baron Edwin Cox’s assortment of Impressionist artwork, with works by artists akin to Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, and Pierre Bonnard.

Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès, with its mixture of signature Van Gogh motifs together with olive bushes, swirling gestural prospers, and highly effective swatches of cerulean and inexperienced, beat out various sturdy items by Cézanne and Van Gogh himself to earn the very best results of the sale and nab the number-four spot within the Dutch grasp’s present public sale standings.

The opposite Van Gogh works that hit the block as a part of the Cox assortment that night time additionally offered nicely, with each Meules de blé (1888) and Jeune homme au bleuet (1890) blowing previous their excessive estimates.

When taken together, these outcomes—and Cabanes particularly—sign a resurgent market curiosity in Van Gogh’s late-career works.

Claude Monet, Le Bassin aux nymphéas, 1917. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Van Gogh’s portray simply narrowly beat out this work by one other iconic Impressionist, which offered at a Sotheby’s spring sale for $70.3 million.

Le Bassin aux nymphéas (1917–19), which was included in the home’s Could night sale of Impressionist and trendy artwork, is a first-rate instance of Claude Monet’s signature artistry, filled with languid brushstrokes and dreamy colours—and, after all, his beloved water lilies.

The $70 million closing hammer worth locations the work firmly in the course of the artist’s high 10 public sale outcomes, dominated largely by related work of lilies, in addition to Monet’s different favored motif, the pastoral haystacks.

Le Bassin—the fifth-highest public sale consequence for a bit by Monet—trails the fourth-highest hammer worth by $10 million, however stands a cool $15 million forward of the subsequent consequence, achieved by one other lilies portray at a Sotheby’s sale in 2015.

This newest result’s a part of a promising upswing within the Impressionist grasp’s work at market: 4 of his high 5 outcomes at public sale have been achieved previously 5 years, with the present high lot, 1890’s Meules, promoting for $110.7 million in 2019.

Beeple, EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, 2021. Courtesy of Christie’s Photographs Ltd.

The sale of this non-fungible token (NFT) for a whopping $69.3 million was maybe the most important artwork market story of the yr.

The work—a composition containing works from the collection “Everydays” by the artist Mike Winkelmann, higher often known as Beeple—was important for being the primary NFT offered by a significant public sale home when it was included in a Christie’s sale this spring.

Everydays began bidding at simply $100, however over the subsequent few weeks, it will blow previous the $1 million barrier, ending up at a worth round $9 million the day earlier than the sale ended.

From there, bidding grew in leaps and bounds to finish up at this astonishing closing hammer worth, one which landed Beeple among the many high three most costly residing artists at public sale, alongside David Hockney and Jeff Koons.

The ramifications of this stratospheric sale are nonetheless being felt, however the $69.3 million sale of Everdays might be seen as a blinking neon sign of the widespread eagerness for brand new modes of gathering and distributing artwork in our digital age.

Jackson Pollock, Quantity 17, 1951. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

This prime Jackson Pollock portray from Sotheby’s sale of the Macklowe assortment greater than doubled its low estimate to promote for $61.1 million, within the course of changing into the costliest Pollock work to ever promote at public sale.

The eight-foot-tall monochromatic gestural portray was the third-highest results of the sale, however nonetheless managed to shoot previous the earlier Pollock file holder of $58.4 million, achieved in 2013.

It’s probably the most promising Pollock public sale lead to a while. In 2018, various signature drip work offered for costs ranging as much as $55.4 million, however Pollock’s secondary-market appearances have lingered within the decrease registers within the years since.

This sale bodes nicely for the Summary Expressionist icon’s market, and helped push the Macklowe sale to its estimate-shattering heights.

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2007. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

This vibrant untitled Cy Twombly portray from 2007 was one more work by a Twentieth-century icon that offered as a part of the Macklowe sale at Sotheby’s in November.

The late-period work, which options Twombly’s signature gestural marks unfold throughout practically 20 ft of canvas, offered close to the highest of its estimate vary, hammering at $58.9 million and changing into the third-most costly Twombly work at public sale within the course of.

A lot of the late artist’s present public sale standings hail from his iconic interval of manufacturing starting from the late Nineteen Sixties to the early ’70s, when he was producing extra muted, calligraphic works, like his present public sale file, 1968’s Untitled (New York Metropolis), which offered for $70 million in 2015.

This consequence, when coupled with the 2017 sale of a bit from the identical period for $46.4 million, could sign a rising market curiosity within the artist’s late interval.

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