Here Are the 15 Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction Around the World in March 2022

Surrealism dominated the top and bottom of our list this month.

Sotheby's Helena Newman with René Magritte, L'empire des lumières (1961). Courtesy Sotheby's
Sotheby's Helena Newman with René Magritte, L'empire des lumières (1961). Courtesy Sotheby's

The third month of 2022 was marked by a taste for Surrealism, which is having a major moment in the art market and as a set piece for major museum shows in London and New York, as well as the upcoming Venice Biennale, where a book by Leonora Carrington lends the main exhibition its title.

René Magritte’s L’empire des lumières (1961), which had never been sold before (no, not even on the primary market), brought in a hearty $79 million, well over its unofficial estimate of $60 million, trouncing the artist’s previous record of $26.8 million, set in November 2018. Sotheby’s pulled out all the stops to market the painting, transforming the facade of its London headquarters into an apt trompe l’oeil duplicate of the work. The eerie picture, which shows a residential home in dark shadow underneath a blue sky dappled with clouds, comes from a series of 17 paintings and came from the collection Anne-Marie Crowet Gillion, who modeled for the artist and was the daughter of one of his most important patrons.

Another notable lot on this month’s list is the unassuming pile of strawberries by French artist Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin that far exceeded its high estimate of $16.5 million to fetch a stunning $26.8 million after a heated bidding war. Only a  week later, the painting made headlines again when the Louvre stepped in, requesting that the French government classify the work as a national treasure in the hopes the museum could raise the money to add it to its collection.

Meanwhile, Sotheby’s Paris’s “Surrealism and Its Legacy” auction was the first in the city dedicated to the Surrealist movement—and it paid off, netting a respectable $36 million total, led by Francis Picabia’s 1929 painting Pavonia. The robin’s egg blue work fetched $10.9 million, setting a new record for the artist.

Below, see the full list of the top 15 most expensive works sold at auction in March 2022.

 

1. René Magritte, L’empire des lumières (1961)

Rene Magritte, L’empire des lumières (1961) . Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Rene Magritte, L’empire des lumières (1961) . Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: £59,422,000 ($79,430,557)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, March 2, 2022

 

2. Franz Marc, The Foxes (Die Fü chse)

Franz Marc, The Foxes. Courtesy of Christie's.

Franz Marc, The Foxes (1913). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022.

Estimate: Undisclosed

Final Price: £42,654,500 ($56,804,501)

Where & When: Christie’s London, March 1, 2022

 

3. Francis Bacon, Triptych 1986-7 (1986–87)

Francis Bacon, Triptych 1986-7. Courtesy Christie's.

Francis Bacon, Triptych 1986-7. Courtesy Christie’s of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £35 million to £55 million ($46,610,733 to $73,245,438)

Final Price: £38,459,206 ($51,217,480)

Where & When: Christie’s London, March 1, 2022

 

4. Claude Monet, Nymphéas (1914–17)

Claude Monet, <i>Nymphéas </i>(1914–17). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Claude Monet, Nymphéas (1914–17). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £15 million to £20 million ($20,050,795 to $26,734,393)

Final Price: £23,228,500 ($31,049,993)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, March 2, 2022

 

5. Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Le panier de fraises des bois 

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, <i>Le panier de fraises des bois</i>. Courtesy of ArtCurial.

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Le panier de fraises des bois. Courtesy of ArtCurial.

Estimate: £12 to £15 million ($13,199,868 to $16,499,835)

Final Price: £24,381,400 ($26,819,271)

Where & When: Artcurial Paris, March 23, 2022

 

6. Pablo Picasso, La fenê tre ouverte (1929)

Pablo Picasso, <i>La fenêtre ouverte</i> (1929). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Pablo Picasso, La fenêtre ouverte (1929). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £14 million to £24 million ($18,644,293 to $31,961,646)

Final Price: £16,319,500 ($21,733,253)

Where & When: Christie’s London, March 1, 2022

 

7. Lucian Freud, Girl with Closed Eyes (1986–87)

Lucian Freud, <i>Girl with Closed Eyes </i> (1986-87). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Lucian Freud, Girl with Closed Eyes  (1986–87). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £10 million to £15 million ($13,317,352 to $19,976,028)

Final Price: £15,174,500 ($20,208,416)

Where & When: Christie’s London, March 1, 2022

 

8. Andy Warhol, Silver Liz (Ferus Type) (1963)

Andy Warhol, <i>Silver Liz(Ferus Type) </i>(1963). Courtesy of Shinwa Auction Co.

Andy Warhol, Silver Liz(Ferus Type) (1963). Courtesy of Shinwa Auction Co.

Estimate: JPY2,300,000,000 to JPY3,450,000,000 ($18,861,642 to $28,292,463)

Final Price: JPY2,300,000,000 ($18,861,642)

Where & When: Shinwa Auction Co., Tokyo, March 30, 2022

 

9. David Hockney, Garrowby Hill (2017)

David Hockney, <i>Garrowby Hill</i> (2017). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

David Hockney, Garrowby Hill (2017). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £7.5 million to £10 million ($10,025,397 to $14,035,556)

Final Price: £14,093,950 ($18,839,660)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, March 2, 2022

 

10. Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme accoudée, gris et blanc (1938)

Pablo Picasso, <i>Buste de femme accoudée, gris et blanc</i> (1938). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Buste de femme accoudée, gris et blanc (1938). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £10 million to £15 million ($13,367,196 to $20,050,795)

Final Price: £11,968,300 ($15,998,262)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, March 2, 2022

 

11. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Il Duce (1982)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Il Duce (1982). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Il Duce (1982). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: CNY 80,000,000 to CNY 120,000,000 ($12,672,464 to $19,008,696)

Final Price: CNY 94,160,000 ($14,915,490)

Where & When: Christie’s Shanghai, March 1, 2022

 

12. Vincent van Gogh, A Pair of Lovers (Eglogue en Provence) (1888)

Vincent van Gogh, <i>A Pair of Lovers (Eglogue en Provence) </i>(1888). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Vincent van Gogh, A Pair of Lovers (Eglogue en Provence) (1888). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £7 million to £10 million ($9,357,037 to $13,367,196)

Final Price: £10,015,000 ($13,387,247)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, March 2, 2022

 

13. Marc Chagall, Le jongleur (1943)

Marc Chagall, <i>Le jongleur</i> (1943). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Marc Chagall, Le jongleur (1943). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Estimate: £7.5 million to £10.5 million ($9,988,014 to $13,983,220)

Final Price: £8,877,000 ($11,821,813)

Where & When: Christie’s London, March 1, 2022

 

14. Claude Monet, Massif de chrysanthèmes (1897)

Claude Monet, <i>Massif de chrysanthèmes</i> (1897). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Claude Monet, Massif de chrysanthèmes (1897). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: £10 million to £15 million ($13,367,196 to $20,050,795)

Final Price: £8,291,500 ($11,083,411)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, March 2, 2022

 

15. Francis Picabia, Pavonia (1929)

Francis Picavia, Pavonia (1929). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Francis Picavia, Pavonia (1929). Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Estimate: €6 million to €8 million ($6,597,031 to $8,796,041)

Final Price: €9,996,700 ($10,991,423)

Where & When: Sotheby’s Paris, March 16, 2022


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