Leonardo da Vinci has special cachet. What is striking about the Christie’s soiree in New York last week was not so much the $450m paid for his rediscovered Salvator Mundi but the prices fetched by everyone else.
Buyers forked out $46m for vermilion spirals from the Bacchus series by Cy Twombly, executed 12 years ago with a paint-drenched brush on a pole. Soothing sands called Saffron by Mark Rothko fetched $32m.
The week’s haul at Christie’s and Sotheby’s topped $1.5bn, with Asian buyers snapping up Monets. Fernand Leger’s abstract Contrastes de Formes fetched $62m.
It screams late-cycle liquidity, recalling Japan’s impressionist fever in the late Eighties before the Nikkei collapsed and the bottom fell out of the art market. Read more