De Kooning painting sells for record $66.3 million

AFP-JIJI

Willem de Kooning’s “Untitled XXV” was sold late Tuesday at Christie’s in New York for $66.3 million, a record for a work by the abstract artist and for post-war contemporary art.

The imposing work, which measures 7 by 6.5 feet (2 by 2.2 meters), was painted by the Dutch-American artist in 1977 and is emblematic of the energetic, multicolor brush strokes he used in his work of the mid 1970s.

Christie’s auction house initially valued “Untitled XXV” at $40 million. When the same painting was auctioned ten years ago it went for $27.1, a record at the time.

The bid was placed in a phone call, and the buyer’s identity was not revealed.

New York’s fall auction season kicked off this week with an array of masterpieces, drawing bidders from around the world at Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses.

Late Monday Edvard Munch’s “Girls on the Bridge” sold for $54.5 million, the second-highest auction price paid for a work by the Norwegian painter, Sotheby’s said.

The 1902 painting depicting women in colorful dresses fetched a price higher than the auction house’s estimate of above $50 million.

There’s no shortage of bidders in the United States, Paris, London — and increasingly Asia, with growing Chinese fortunes spent on internationally recognized works at both major auction houses.

The sales will serve as a barometer of the global art market, which did well during this year’s spring auctions despite a slow 2015.