Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Major art fails to shift at sale

Brother's Sausage by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Brother's Sausage by Basquiat was the most expensive lot in the auction

Artworks by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat have failed to sell at a major contemporary art auction in New York.

But the Christie sale took a total of $74.1m (£44.2m), which auctioneers called "reminiscent of 18 months ago" before the downturn hit the art market.

Warhol's Tunafish Disaster was expected to make up to $8m (£4.7m), with $12m (£7m) for Basquiat's Brother's Sausage.

The auction house said they did not sell because of their appeal to only a "small, dedicated group of collectors".

Before the sale, it was announced that another Warhol had been withdrawn from sale.

Michael Jackson portrait by Andy Warhol
Warhol's Jackson portrait changed hands in August

Other pieces, including by artists Jeff Koons and Jasper Johns, sold strongly in a largely brisk and competitive auction.

Some artworks sold for more than twice their original estimate.

But pre-auction estimates were restrained in a move to make the sale more buoyant.

A Warhol piece that sold for more than $812,500 (£485,000) at Tuesday's sale was a 1984 portrait of Michael Jackson, which commanded more than its estimated price.

The brightly-coloured silkscreen print changed hands back in August, when it was thought to have sold for more than $1m.

According to Christie's, the last owner acquired the piece from the artist's New York foundation.

It was displayed at London's O2 Arena ahead of the August sale which was held in New York.

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