News-Antique.com - Jan 03,2012 - 10) ‘Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey’ - George Stubbs - $35.9 million
One of only two pre-20th century works on this year’s list, this 18th century masterpiece depicts one of the era’s most well-known racehorses and was commissioned by one of Stubb’s greatest patrons.
Described as the most important work by Stubbs to appear at auction “for more than a generation”, the painting sold at Christie’s in London in July for a price of £22,441,250 ($35,906,000).
9) ‘Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud’ - Francis Bacon - $37 million
Francis Bacon spent more than 20 years creating portraits and images of his close friend and artistic contemporary Lucien Freud. This triptych is considered to be perhaps the finest of them all, and a true testament to their remarkable relationship.
The work appeared at a Sotheby’s auction in February with a pre-sale estimate of £7 - £9 million, but exceeded all expectations to sell for £23,001,250 ($37,004,411).
8) ‘Self-Portrait’ - Andy Warhol - $38.4 million
Warhol’s journey from artist to icon began with this first self-portrait created in 1963. Using a coin-operated photo booth, he created the image after the Detroit art collector Florence Barron cancelled her own portrait by Warhol saying “"Nobody knows me … They want to see you."
She purchased the work for just $1,600, and after more than 40 years in her family’s possession the portrait sold at a Christie’s auction in May for a price of $38.4 million.
7) ‘Houses with Laundry (Suburb II)’ - Egon Schiele - $39.8 million
This urban landscape by the Austrian artist is regarded as one of his most important, and was allegedly inspired by the colourful washing lines in his mother’s hometown of Krumau.
The work was sold by the Leopold Museum in Austria, which owns the largest collection of Schiele’s work. It appeared in a Sotheby’s sale in London in June, where it sold for £24,681,250 ($39,865,155).
6) ‘Litzlberg am Attersee’ - Gustav Klimt - $40.4 million
This colourful landscape, painted in 1915, had a dark chapter in its history – it had previously been stolen from its original Jewish owner Amalie Redlich by the Nazis during WWII.
Earlier in 2011 the work was finally returned to Redlich’s grandson, Georges Jorisch, by the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg where it had hung for many years. It was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in November for a price of $40,402,500.
5) ‘La Lecture’ - Pablo Picasso - $40.7 million
Picasso’s work regularly draws top prices from collectors, and 2011 was no different. This portrait of his muse (and mistress) Marie-Therese Walter was one of several painted in 1932, and caused a frenzy in the Sotheby’s auction room when bidding topped its estimate of £18 million in under six minutes flat.
After the dust had settled, the hammer fell and an anonymous phone bidder was the lucky new owner at a price of £25,241,250 ($40,711,612).