Art Market Explodes: These 10 Paintings Sold for Almost $1 Billion

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Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen drops the gavel on Monday as he sells Pablo Picasso's "Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O')" at Christie's auction house in New York. Carlo Allegri/Reuters

The art world is having a pretty big week. Actually, the biggest week ever: An auction house sold more than $1 billion of art in a single week for the first time.

Christie's auction house in New York City sold $705.9 million of impressionist, modern and contemporary art Monday during its Looking Forward to the Past evening sale. It also sold $658.5 million of postwar and contemporary art during its Wednesday evening sale. Christie's previous record occurred one week last May, when it garnered $975 million in art sales.

"It's a spectacle of excess at the highest level," Abigail Asher, partner in the New York and Los Angeles art consultants Guggenheim Asher Associates Inc., told The New York Times during Monday's auction. "The last few years have been building up to this moment. A new class of buyer has entered the market, and they're prepared to pay staggering sums for trophy pictures."

Here are some of Christie's highest-selling pieces from the week.

1. Les femmes d'Alger, Pablo Picasso, 1955: $179,365,000

pablo
Christie's

2. L'homme au doigt, Alberto Giacometti, 1947: $141,285,000

alberto
Christie's

3. No. 10, Mark Rothko, 1958: $81,925,000

Mark Rothko
Christie's

4. Buste de femme, Pablo Picasso, 1938: $67,365,000

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Christie's

5. Colored Mona Lisa, Andy Warhol, 1963: $56,165,000

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Christie's

6. Benefits Supervisor Resting, Lucian Freud, 1994: $56,165,000

benefits
Christie's

7. Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, Francis Bacon, 1963: $47,765,000

Francis
Christie's

8. No. 36, Mark Rothko, 1958: $40,485,000

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Christie's

9. La Parlement, soleil couchant, Claude Monet, 1900–1901: $40,485,000

claude
Christie's

10. The Field Next to the Other Road, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1981: $37,125,000

jean
Christie's
Art Market Explodes: These 10 Paintings Sold for Almost $1 Billion | Culture