May 13, 2014 11:37 pm

Warhol works total $100M at New York art auction

A Christie's employee looks at "Race Riot" by Andy Warhol during a photo call in central London on April 11, 2014.

ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK – Two works from Andy Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series sold for a combined $100 million Tuesday and a Barnett Newman painting went for an artist record of $84.2 million in fierce New York auction bidding.

Warhol’s “Race Riot, 1964″ – a provocative four-panel painting of unrest in Birmingham, Alabama – went for $62.9 million at Christie’s auction of postwar and contemporary works, far exceeding the estimate of $45 million.

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The work was a direct response to an article Warhol saw in Life magazine that ran with an image by Associated Press photographer Charles Moore.

READ MORE: Previously undiscovered Andy Warhol art recovered from floppy disks

Warhol’s 1962 painting “White Marilyn,” completed shortly after Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe took her life, sold for $41 million, well above its estimate of $12 million to $18 million.

Newman’s “Black Fire I,” a 1961 canvas showing a thick column of black alongside smaller ribbons of white and black, surpassed his auction record set last year when “Onement VI” went for $43.8 million at Sotheby’s.

The New York artist died in 1970 at age 65.

Christie’s sold 68 pieces Tuesday, raising more than $744 million. All prices included the buyer’s premium.

Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards” sold for $80.8 million. The price surged quickly from an opening bid of $50 million.

The 1984 work came onto the market a year after Christie’s sold Bacon’s 1969 “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” for $142.4 million, setting a world record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

Bacon, who died in 1992, named Edwards his sole heir. Edwards oversaw the British artist’s archives until his death in 2003. The three-panel work shows him in a relaxed pose sitting on a stool with his right leg crossed over his left knee.

Christie’s says it is one of the greatest paintings from the artist’s late period.

Mark Rothko’s “Untitled,” a large abstract oil painting with colours ranging from a silvery mist to a deep violet, fetched $66.2 million.

Jeff Koons’ “Jim Beam J.B. Turner Train,” a 9 1/2 -foot-long-stainless steel sculpture filled with bourbon, sold for $33.8 million. His “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold last spring for $58.4 million, setting a world auction record for a living artist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s seminal 1981 painting of a regal warrior figure sold for $34.9 million. The work, replete with graffiti imagery and text, marked the New York artist’s “transcendence from the leading figure on the underground art scene to the established world of international art stardom,” Christie’s said.

On Wednesday, more art is on tap at Sotheby’s.

A 1986 group of six Warhol self-portraits is expected to bring $25 million to $35 million. The identical silk-screen images in different colours depict Warhol in his famous “fright wig.”

Among other standouts at Sotheby’s is Koons’ 7-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture, “Popeye,” estimated to bring $25 million.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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