Andy Warhol is still a superstar; Pablo Picasso remains a household name; and Jean-Michel Basquiat will forever be a creative rebel without a cause. Artnet.com, the online art site whose price database includes the auction results from more than 1,400 auction houses worldwide, just released a list of the world’s top-selling artists of 2012, with both surprising and anticipated statistics.
We analyzed the list to discover that Warhol was making amazing 3-D paintings back in 1962; Francis Bacon’s twisted portraits of his suicidal lover are his most coveted works; and rock legend Eric Clapton is a major art collector who’s reaping big returns on his past purchases. We also learned that 1981 — when he was still just 20 years old — was bad-boy Basquiat’s best year and that works from a handful of obscure Chinese painters are now selling for millions. Click through to see images of the year’s top-tiered works and read about who sold what and for how much.
Andy Warhol was the top money winner of the year with $380.5 million in sales. His 3-D painting of the Statue of Liberty topped his lots at $43.8 million in a November auction at Christie’s New York. The 1962 painting — one of Warhol’s seminal years — depicts the celebrated statue 24 times, in 4 rows of 6 images. It’s silkscreened in red over green ink on a white background to create the three-dimensional effect. “If you put on 3-D glasses, it becomes a grainy, black and white 3-D photograph,” said Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, which smartly marketed the sale of the canvas with 3-D glasses for the catalog.