Here Are the 15 Most Expensive Artworks Sold at Auction Around the World in October 2021

Last month's top sales were dominated by Sotheby's Picasso bonanza in Las Vegas and a half-shredded Banksy.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 23: Sotheby's chairman and auctioneer Oliver Barker during the auction of Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Sotheby's)
Sotheby's chairman and auctioneer Oliver Barker during the auction of Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Sotheby's)

The top lots for October 2021 sales around the world can be summarized in just two words: Sotheby’s and Picasso. One-third of the top-selling auction lots last month were by the artist, most coming from the Picasso-palooza pop-up sale that Sotheby’s held in Las Vegas, to auction off former casino magnate Steve Wynn’s collection.

MGM Resorts, which hosted to sale, acquired the 11 Picasso works when it took over Wynn’s Mirage casino in 2000. Wynn left his post in 2018 following allegations of sexual harassment (which he denies), and his connection to the collection didn’t seem to have a negative impact on the white glove auction, which achieved $109 million, exceeding its presale estimate of $100 million.

Another top-selling work by Picasso was Femme Accroupie (1954),depicting the artist’s second wife Jacqueline, which fetched $24.6 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October, a new auction record for the artist in Asia.

Sotheby’s had another smash hit with the half-shredded Banksy work Love Is In the Bin, which sold for a record $25.4 million—a staggering 18 times the $1.4 million the consignor paid for the work three years ago, when it was known as Girl with Balloon and was dramatically semi-destructed, live in the salesroom. The auction house really leaned into the buzz surrounding the now infamous stunt, flying a half-tattered flag over its London headquarters.

Other big hitters in October include perennial favorite Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose Untitled (Red Warrior) was purchased by New York gallerist Christophe Van de Weghe for $20.9 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. The auction house raked in $185 million across the five Modern and contemporary sales it hosted during Hong Kong’s art week, notching a year-to-date total of $600 million in Asia, which is a 35 percent improvement on its 2020 numbers according to the Back Room.

Most of the works on this list managed to sell within the range of their presale estimates, although a few outliers are worth noting: Sanyu’s Nu endormi dating to the 1950s, didn’t quite manage reach its $13 to $19 million range, only bringing in $10 million, despite the artist’s headline-making sales in the past few years. On the flip side, Hurvin Anderson’s large-scale pool painting Audition (1998) sold for more than $10 million, demolishing its high estimate of $2 million, and making it the fifth most expensive artwork by a living Black artist, behind works by Kerry James Marshall, Robert Colescott, and Mark Bradford.

Below, see the full list of the 15 most expensive works to sell at auction in October 2021.

1. Pablo Picasso, Femme au béret rouge-orange (1938)

Pablo Picasso, <i>Femme au béret rouge-orange</i> (1938). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Femme au béret rouge-orange (1938). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: $40.5 million

Estimate: $20 million to $30 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s Las Vegas, October 23, 2021

 

2. Zhang Daqian, Mist at Dawn (1968)

Zhang Daqian, <i>Mist at Dawn</i> (1968). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Zhang Daqian, Mist at Dawn (1968). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: 214.6 million HKD ($27.6 million)

Estimate: Undisclosed

Where & When: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 11, 2021

 

3. Banksy, Love is in the Bin (2018)

Banksy, Love Is In The Bin Image courtesy Sotheby's

Banksy, Love Is In The Bin (2018). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: $25.4 million

Estimate: £4 million to £6 million ($5.5 million to $8.2 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, October 14, 2021

 

4. Pablo Picasso, Femme Accroupie (1954)

Pablo Picasso, <i>Femme Accroupie</i> (1954). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Femme Accroupie (1954). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: 191.6 million HKD ($24.6 million)

Estimate: 150 million HKD to 230 million HKD ($19 million to $30 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 9, 2021

 

5. Pablo Picasso, Homme et enfant (1969)

Pablo Picasso, <i>Homme et enfant</i> (1969). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Homme et enfant (1969). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: $24.4 million

Estimate: $20 million to $30 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s Las Vegas, October 23, 2021

 

6. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Red Warrior) (1982)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Red Warrior) (1982). Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Red Warrior) (1982). Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: 163 million HKD ($20.9 million)

Estimate: 150 million HKD to 200 million HKD ($19.3 million to $25.7 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 9, 2021

 

7. Pablo Picasso, Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs (1942)

Pablo Picasso,<i> Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs</i> (1942). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs (1942). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: $16.6 million

Estimate: $10 million to $15 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s Las Vegas, October 23, 2021

 

8. René Magritte, L’art de la conversation (1950)

René Magritte, <i>L'art de la conversation</i> (1950). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

René Magritte, L’art de la conversation (1950). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: €12.5 million ($14 million)

Estimate: €9 million to €12 million ($10 million to $14 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s Paris, October 26, 2021

 

9. Gerhard Richter, S.D (1985)

Gerhard Richter, <i>S.D</i> (1985). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Gerhard Richter, S.D (1985). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: £9.6 million ($13 million)

Estimate: £7 million to £9 million ($9.5 million to $12 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, October 12, 2021

 

10. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Because it Hurts the Lungs (1986)

Jean-Michel Basquiat, <i>Because it Hurts the Lungs</i> (1986). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Because it Hurts the Lungs (1986). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Final Price: £8.2 million ($11 million)

Estimate: £7 million to £10 million ($9.5 to $14 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, October 15, 2021

 

11. Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (1985)

Gerhard Richter, <i>Abstraktes Bild</i> (1985). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (1985). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: £7.9 million ($10.8 million)

Estimate: £5 million to £7 million ($6.8 million to $9.5 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s London, October 12, 2021

 

12. Sanyu, Nu endormi (1950s)

Sanyu, <i>Nu endormi </i>(1950s). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Sanyu, Nu endormi (1950s). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: 80.2 million HKD ($10 million)

Estimate: 100 million HKD to 150 million HKD ($13 million to $19 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 9, 2021

 

13. Hurvin Anderson, Audition (1998)

Hurvin Anderson, <i>Audition</i> (1998). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

Hurvin Anderson, Audition (1998). Courtesy of Christie’s Images, Ltd.

Final Price: £7.4 million ($10 million)

Estimate: £1 million to £1.5 million ($1.4 million to $2.1 million)

Where & When: Christie’s London, October 15, 2021

 

14. Pablo Picasso, Buste d’homme (1969)

Pablo Picasso, <i>Buste d'homme</i> (1969). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Pablo Picasso, Buste d’homme (1969). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: $9.5 million

Estimate: $10 million to $15 million

Where & When: Sotheby’s Las Vegas, October 23, 2021

 

15. Vincent van Gogh, Nature Morte: Vase Aux Glaïeuls (1886)

Vincent van Gogh, <i>Nature Morte: Vase Aux Glaïeuls</i> (1886). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Vincent van Gogh, Nature Morte: Vase Aux Glaïeuls (1886). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Final Price: 71 million HKD ($9 million)

Estimate: 70 million HKD to 100 million HKD ($8.9 million to $12.8 million)

Where & When: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 9, 2021


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics