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$385 Million Art Sale Paints Pricier Market Picture

Thursday, 17 May 2007 | 6:48 PM ET

Christie’s auction house sold $385 million worth of art Wednesday – the second highest total in art auctioning history. ARTnews editor Eileen Kinsella and Winkleman Gallery owner Edward Winkleman joined “Power Lunch” to discuss the high price of art – and what the auction means for the market.

Christie's Contemporary
Discussing the incredible prices being garnered at Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Art Auction, with Eileen Kinsella, ARTnews editor; Edward Winkleman, Winkleman Gallery owner and CNBC's Bill Griffeth

“Green Car Crash,” an Andy Warhol painting, started at $20 million. Two bidders battled for it in million and half-million dollar increments – until a third person, “a well-known Manhattan dealer, jumped into the fray and threw everyone for a loop,” said Kinsella. The bid ended when an unknown person bid $71.4 million.

Kinsella said the auction vaulted Warhol into a different price bracket altogether: his previous record was $17.4 million.

Winkleman compared the pricey Warhol paintings to Pablo Picasso’s pieces, at least in market value: “The best Picassos have been picked over already, and collectors who want a serious high-quality work of art have to move on and start working with the contemporary market,” he explained.

Winkleman said there is no price bubble yet, however. “There are no real indicators at this point of when the market’s going to sort of burst, per se. To me that doesn’t seem like such a bad price.” But, he added, “because the market’s gone totally global, the indicators we had to sort of help us see that [bubble cycle] coming more clearly before just aren’t there.”

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