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Billion Dollar Art Auctions: Fall 2012

Billion Dollar Art Auctions: Fall 2012

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Two Weeks, One Billion in Art

The art market has been on a tear in the past decade, providing art lovers and coldhearted investors alike the solid value and handsome returns that have deserted the stock market.

The furor for blue-chip art only increased as China, Russia and other emerging nations began minting their own millionaires and billionaires, many looking to diversify beyond their booming but unstable economies.

The future of the market now faces a test. As the autumn auction season kicks off in New York, more than $1 billion worth of art is expected to change hands in four major sales. So far, prices have been soft, raising doubts about the market's prospects. Is art losing steam as an investment? Or were buyers distracted by the hurricane, elections and the "fiscal cliff?"

Some observers have speculated the appetite is fading for artists who have anchored previous booms — Picasso, Monet, Giacometti and Chagall — in favor of post-war and contemporary work that goes on sale this week. (Shown here, the controversial Jeff Koons with Christie's chairman for post-war and contemporary art, Brett Gorvy.)

Click ahead to see the trophy canvases from this historic two weeks of bidding—pieces that are causing consternation and those that are generating the most excitement:

By Paul O'Donnell
Posted 12 Nov. 2012

Photo: Getty Images