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The Highest Winning Bids

Like the rest of the global economy, the art world has experienced its share of turmoil, prompting it to change the way it does business. Could a turnaround in the high-end art market signal a comeback for the economy at large?

Tuesday’s auction of impressionist and modern art conducted by Sotheby’s sent mixed signals. More than 80% of the items were sold—the highest level in two years—pulling in $61,370,500. Some pieces went for twice estimated value, but the top two pieces didn't sell: a 1938 portrait by Pablo Picasso offered by a Bernard Madoff victim, and “The Cat,” a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti.

Sotheby’s reported $52 million in losses last fall, and recieved a recent downgrade to "junk" status by Standard and Poor's. Its stock (BID) has fallen from $61.40 in 2007 to just under $12 on the night of the auction.

So what were the priciest pieces sold? Click ahead to see the top 10!

By Paul Toscano
Posted 6 May 2009

Information provided by Sotheby's New York