A painting by Barnett Newman set an artist record at auction on Tuesday, selling for $43.8 million in New York. Sotheby's had expected "Onement VI," an abstract work in dark blue, to go for between $30 million and $40 million.
The sale was part of a larger auction of contemporary art that brought in a total of $293.6 million, on the low end of expectations. The sale included an auction record for Gerhard Richter. The artist's photo-painting "Domplatz, Mailand" brought in $37.1 million. A Yves Klein piece, "Untitled Blue Sponge Sculpture," sold for $22 million.
The Newman painting was created in 1953. [Updated] The painting was being sold by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Seattle Post Intelligencer.
It once belonged to Frederick Weisman, the late Los Angeles art collector whose foundation still runs tours of the family's private collection in L.A. Weisman acquired the painting in 1961, according to Sotheby's. The piece was subsequently sold to other individuals.
Sotheby's didn't reveal the buyer, but the New York Times reported that the winner was a telephone bidder speaking Italian.
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