Christie’s auction of contemporary art sets records

Christie's auction of postwar and contemporary art set a record Tuesday for the second year running, bringing in $157.4 million (Ђ134.06 million) and hitting auction highs for 18 artists. The sale also marked a milestone for photography - Richard Prince's "Untitled (Cowboy)" was the first photograph ever to sell for more than $1 million (Ђ850,000). New York dealer Stellan Holm snagged the 1989 piece for $1.2 million (Ђ1.02 million).

Mark Rothko's "Homage to Matisse" was the top selling work of the event, going for $22.4 million (Ђ19.08 million) to an anonymous telephone bidder and beating all previous Rothko prices. The red, orange and blue canvas was a favorite of the artist, who chose to stand in front of it at his wedding, the AP reports.

The sale also set a record for Roy Lichtenstein, whose 1963 "In the Car" sold for $16.2 million (Ђ13.8 million). The Pop image, which features a man and woman behind a car window, sold to New York dealer Robert Mnuchin, who said he was bidding for a client. The total take for the evening beat Christie's own top estimates and was the highest ever for a contemporary art auction, published reports said. The previous record was set by the gallery's own sale in May.

Top prices were also set for Francis Bacon, David Smith and others. The event attracted the rich - including billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, who stayed hidden in a skybox - and the famous, including actor Steve Martin. A.M.

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