Show us the money

This Warhol picture sold at Sotheby’s yesterday for $32.5m, which was more than double the estimate. The buyer maybe should have Googled the Warhol Self Portrait 1986 beforehand, seen these, and thought again, but then, who knows? Perhaps originality ain’t his thing.

$32m seems a lot of dollar for a picture, but it’s mere phytoplankton compared to the super sales, the most substantial of which is currently believed to be Number 5, 1948 by Jackson Pollock which was apparently sold in 2006 by music mogul David Geffen to Mexican financier  David Martinez (allegedly, he denies it, the coy thing!) for a neat $140m.

 The Pollock painting looks like this. (I don’t mean it looks like this, many do, I mean this is a photo of that actual painting.)

Next on the rich list is a De Kooning, Woman III ($137.5) which beats, by a short neck, the $135m shelled out for Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Adele Bloch-Bauer II makes an appearance further down the list, having commanded only $87.9m.

Other faces at the top table are Picasso, more Warhol, Titian, Bacon, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rothko and Jasper Johns. In amongst them is the Giacometti sculpture Man Walking that was, briefly, the most expensive artwork sold at auction at $104.3m, before being usurped by Picasso’s $106.4m for Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.

Did you spot the odd one out? Titian, of course, whose Diana and Actaeon sold last year for around £50m. He’s odd for two reasons: firstly, and obviously, unlike all the others he’s no sort of modern painter, and secondly, importantly, he was bought not by a private buyer but by the state. And which state? Ours of course! The UK, Great Britain. Isn’t that wonderful?  You can visit it at The National Gallery in London now before it next comes ‘home’ to Edinburgh.

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