A Mark Rothko painting owned by Microsoft Corp. co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen helped boutique auctioneer Phillips sell $132 million worth of art, capping two weeks of marathon sales in New York.
Auction houses expect to sell as much as $2.3 billion of art in New York this month as billionaires from China to Brazil compete for trophy works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Jeff Koons in a surging market.
One morning last fall, American graffiti artist Cope2 (real name: Fernando Carlo) walked up the Rue Oberkampf in Paris to a bare wall abutting the century-old Café Charbon. A bald, thickset man dressed in a black T-shirt, jeans and work boots, he contemplated the surface while a crew of helpers tested a ladder for weight and unpacked bags of spray paint. Donning a protective mask, the 45-year-old practitioner of New York’s so-called Wildstyle shook the day’s first aerosol can and confidently began a billboard-sized composition consisting of the word Cope rendered repeatedly in blue and green balloon letters outlined in black.
Paintings by Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat boosted a 87.9 million-pound ($146 million) Sotheby’s auction as wealthy collectors from 40 countries competed for established and emerging art trophies.