If you have been in an art auction house this year, you could be forgiven for thinking there was no credit crunch. After Francis Bacon’s Triptych and Claude Monet’s Le bassin aux nymphéas both sold for record amounts this year, it seems art-lovers are still willing to pay enormous sums for their collections.
Here are the 10 works of art that have fetched the most money at auction.
1. Pablo Picasso, Garçon à la Pipe, 1905
Went for: £51,845,245
Sold at: Sotheby’s New York, May 2004
Why? Picasso painted this when he was just 24. It depicts a young Parisian working boy crowned with a garland of roses, holding a pipe in his left hand. Charles Moffet at Sotheby’s said: “It has a haunting ambiguity that has ensured its status as one of Picasso’s most celebrated images of adolescent beauty.”
2. Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar au chat, 1941
Went for: £46,028,050
Sold at: Sotheby’s New York, May 2006
Why? Picasso painted his “private muse” many times during their nine-year affair, which began in 1936. Dora Maar au Chat was completed in 1941, a few years before the couple separated, and was described by Sotheby’s as being among the most spectacular of all Picasso’s portraits of Maar.
3. Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, 1912
Went for: £41,315,788
Sold at: Christie’s New York, November 2006
Why? The Nazis confiscated this painting in 1938 when Bloch-Bauer’s husband was forced to flee Austria. In his will, he left the painting to his niece, Maria Altmann. But Ms Altmann faced a protracted legal battle to recover the painting, which she finally won in 2006.
Now it hangs in Ronald Lauder’s Neue Galerie in New York – a collection that aims to recover Jewish-owned art, mostly from Germany and Austria, that had been confiscated or looted by the Nazi government.