With a billion dollars worth of art on offer at their spring auctions in New York, Christie's and Sotheby's are looking to the post-war and contemporary works to drive the market this month.
The sales of the newer works are expected to exceed those of the once-dominant Impressionist and modern field by anywhere from 50 to 100 percent, according to estimates.
While both Christie's and Sotheby's have a pair of Impressionist or modern paintings valued at $20 million or $30 million-range, both houses' contemporary sales feature at least three works that are expected to fetch $30 million to $40 million, and possibly more.
Records are likely to fall for artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Gerhard Richter, who already holds the record price for a work by any living artist at auction.
"The supply of $30-million-plus paintings and high-quality material is far greater than what you can find in the Impressionist and modern field," said Brett Gorvy, Christie's worldwide chairman of post-war and contemporary art.
"There's also a very strong taste for 20th and 21st century works which is very global, and has probably increased more in recent years, than it has for other categories."