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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 11:30 GMT
Arts auction sets post-war record
Rothko painted Homage to Matisse in 1954

An oil painting by Mark Rothko has set a new world record of $22.4m (12.9m) for any post-war work sold at auction.

The work, entitled Homage to Matisse, was sold at Christie's post-war and contemporary art sale in New York on Tuesday evening.

New records were also set for Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon and several other artists.

Christie's honorary chairman Christopher Burge said the bidding was "incredibly buoyant".

"The sale was the most amazing sale of my career," he said.

'Deep market'

"The atmosphere in the room was electric with intense bidding. It was an evening that will be a landmark event in the annals of the art market."

The sale included 18 new records among the 40 artists included in the sale. New Rothko records were set for both his painting and a work on paper.

Lichtenstein's In the Car
In the Car was offered by the late artist's son, Mitchell.

Homage to Matisse, consisting of contrasting monolithic blocks in red, yellow and blue, beat its high estimate of $20m (11.5m).

It also eclipsed the old record for a Rothko by more than $5m (2.875m), and any other post-war work by nearly $2m (1.15m).

Lichtenstein's In the Car sold for $16.2m (9.3m), while a Willem de Kooning untitled work from 1977, sold for $10.66m (6.1m), far above the high estimate of $6m (3.5m)

The sale took a total of $157.4m (90.5m), exceeding the pre-sale high-end estimate of $145m (83.4m), with only four of the 70 lots on offer failing to sell.

Christie's had anticipated a high total sale and said afterward the strong prices reflected a "very broad and deep market."

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