The Most Staggering Sales at Art Basel 2011

Art Basel, the most legendary, prestigious art fair in the world — which this year featured $1.8 billion in art — closed with a spectacular bang Sunday. Galleries boasted of epic sales, Gagosian selling $45 million worth of art within the first 45 minutes of the fair, and works by artists like Mark Rothko, Maurizio Cattelan, Anish Kapoor, and Bridget Riley fetching well over $2 million. Bloomberg declared that the art the market was officially back to, if not above, “peak of the boom” 2007-2008 levels and Forbes called the fair a feeding frenzy, reporting that billionaires and celebrities were sweeping up artworks at world-record prices. If the soaring sales at Basel serve as any sort of economic barometer, it’s clear that the disparity between the rich and the poor is graver than ever. The following list chronicles ten of the most mind-boggling sales at Basel this year.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol’s screen-printed canvas One Hundred and Fifty Black/White/Grey Marilyns, was priced at whopping $80 million. Bloomberg reports that minutes after the fair opened, the iconic painting was put on reserve by a European collector. After seeing the quick interest in the work, the seller’s family changed their mind, decided not to sell the painting after all, and officially withdrew it from the fair.

Not all of Warhol’s work was priced so high. Thirteen 1964 Warhol screenprinted boxes of Campbell’s Tomato Juice were marked at economical $1.1 million each. All 13 works were snapped up within the first few hours of the fair.