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From the Salvator Mundi to the Rockefeller's $800m art auction, which artworks created their own history after going under the hammer at auction?
4 Mins

Famous Art Auctions

Lewis Findley
Lewis Findley

Art Auctions Which Broke Records

Art is a fascinating world. It's full of so many emotions, which you immerse yourself in, that it's inspired bidders to create as much history as they have controversy. 

You only have to go back to the auction of Onement VI. It's a solid blue background with a white line going down the middle. It's certainly no Mona Lisa but it did sell for $43.8m and caused an uproar. 

When you look at artworks, you'll notice that you feel something. It can be rage, happiness, sadness etc. but what the artist has done is capture a feeling which has resonated with you. 

How does the Onement VI sale sound now?

Within this article, you'll explore the art auctions which contained that something special and also made headlines.

First ever blockchain artwork auction

First ever blockchain artwork auction

Image Via - GQ Australia

Blockchain has been making a name for itself in recent years. Considered as one of the safest ways to buy something, it's attracted interest from an array of industries such as banking, mining and now auctions!

Dadiani Fine Art took blockchain to new levels when they auctioned an artwork, well... 49% of it. The auction house kept the 51% stake and keep the painting in their possession.

The artwork in questions was 'Fourteen Small Electric Chairs' by Andy Warhol which is valued at £4.2m!

This marked the first time that the technology was used. The goal was to democratise the art market. Will this become a thing? 

AI artwork sells in auction

AI artwork sells in auction for over £300,000

Image Via - Verdict

You've met blockchain, now meet artificial intelligence!

You may know it as the ultra-smart tool which knows us more than we know ourselves.

An algorithm, using artificial intelligence, analysed 15,000 portraits created between the 14th and 20th century and painted a series of portraits of the Belamy family. 

The quality isn't High Renaissance calibre but it's certainly admirable. However, it didn't stop a bidder paying £337,000 for the artwork!

This sale has inspired a lot of questions such as AI being an actual art medium!

Is art heading towards a new era? 

Rockefeller estate auction hits $800m

Rockefeller estate auction hits $800m

Image Via - USA Today

The Rockefeller family is one of the wealthiest families in the world and even have their own building (yes the Rockefeller building).

Their auction was even more spectacular than their landmark building. Consisting of 1,500 lots, it attracted bidders from over 50 countries as they battled for lots which ranged from art to porcelain and furniture.

Dominating the spotlight during its build-up, there was an online exhibition which attracted over 2m page views. 

The auction didn't disappoint after crossing the $800m mark and setting a new record for estate auctions. 

Salvator Mundi sells in auction for $450.3m

Salvator Mundi sells in auction for $450.3m

Image Via - CNN

The Salvator Mundi is one of the most controversial artworks of all time. 

It became the most expensive painting towards the end of 2017 and then, the firestorm began. 

One of the main points of concern is the provenance gap of 200 years. Obviously, a lot can happen in 200 years. I mean, 1817 marked the arrival of bicycles. 

Despite all of the accusations of fraud, legitimacy and more, the winning bidder turned out to be Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism. 

This artwork is still subject to numerous investigations and lawsuits and will only continue. 

Nude painting sells for $157.2m

Nu couché ( Sur le côté gauche) sells for $157.2m

Image Via - Antique Trade Gazette

The excitement for this auction reached new levels after Nu couché ( Sur le côté gauche) was given an estimate of $150m. 

A new record, this nude painting by Amedeo Modigliani was significant for many reasons but here are a couple. 

1) The estimate was $50m more than the Salvator Mundi which is the most expensive painting ever.

2) The artist only painted 9 portraits which are all in private hands.

This all came together to hammer in at $157.2m. 

Final Words

There's never a dull year in the art world. 

The innovation of blockchain and AI may have dramatic impacts on the art market.

Are we going to see major artworks converted into shares? Will AI become a legitimate medium and inspire a whole new wave of artworks?

Fascinating questions which will answer themselves in time.