Do I hear 179.4 million? Going Once, Going Twice!

After hearing about the recent Christie’s auction house record sale of the Pablo Picasso’s painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) for 179.4 million dollars, I thought I’d take a break from my own little world of art to look at what’s happening in the outside world.  What is selling?  Who is selling?  Who is buying? What are the going rates for the big names in art?  

For me, art has mostly been about spending time painting.  But, I’ve always loved to study works by other artists.  I enjoy going to museums, discovering a new artist’s work that I like, and I have a mild curiosity about who is collecting what kind of art.  

The famous auction house Christie’s recently had a big night setting a new record of $658.5 million for their Contemporary Art auction, indicating a “broad art market with very deep pockets”.  

Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) was the star of the night selling to an unidentified buyer for $160 million ($179.4 million with fees)!  Records were set for ten other artists that night.

Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O)

Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O)

Andy Warhol’s painting Colored Mona Lisa sold for $56.2 million.

Andy Warhol's Colored Mona Lisa

Andy Warhol's Colored Mona Lisa

The Field Next to the Other Road by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $37.1 million.

The Field Next to the Other Road by Jean-Michel Basquiat

The Field Next to the Other Road by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Yet another highlight of Christie’s record night was the sale of Mark Rothko’s No. 10 painting for $81.9 million!

No. 10 by Mark Rothko

No. 10 by Mark Rothko

These are just some of what was selling at Christie’s for big money to top collectors all around the world. Other auction houses like Sotheby’s are also selling at record levels.  

A major collector buying and selling Contemporary Art is businessman Mitchell P. Rales.  He and his wife Emily have been very active in the Modern Art world for quite awhile now. 

It just so happens that Mitch and I went to high school together!  We’ve stayed in touch over the years and I’ve long admired his rise to the top.  Mitch has a tremendous love of art and along with his wife Emily founded their own museum in Potomac, MD, called Glenstone, which blends three of their passions ~ art, architecture and landscape. Mitch is currently a General Trustee of the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC, as well. 

If you have an interest in Contemporary Art and Architecture check out a new national treasure ~ Glenstone!

After the 2008 art market crash it’s been a slow road back for artists and gallery owners.  I’m glad to know that collectors are back in the market.  It’s usually indicative of a turnaround throughout the market.  Even in my own micro-world of art, things are improving with repeat buyers buying more paintings and new collectors discovering and buying my work.

Thank you for reading my journal.  I’m busy varnishing and framing these days, but I’ll be back to painting soon!  Please check back to see what’s on the easel next.  Thanks. 


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next? Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe