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As goes Andy Warhol, so goes the art market

America's pop art painter and filmmaker, Andy Warhol, stands in front of his double portrait of the late Hollywood film star, Marilyn Monroe, at The Tate Gallery in London, February 15, 1971, at a press preview of his exhibition.
AP Photo
The $569 million man.
By Jason Karaian
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Although he died in 1987, Andy Warhol is as trendy as ever. As a matter of fact, the Pop Art pioneer set a new record for auctions by a single artist, with his work generating $569 million in sales last year, up from $367 million the year before.

That helped push the global art auction market to a new record of its own in 2014—$15.2 billion in turnover, a 26% jump from the previous year, according to a new report by French research firm Earlier, a Christie’s executive dubbed 2014 a “banner year,” as both it and rival auction house Sotheby’s posted record sales, driven by a rising interest in contemporary art.

Warhol’s extensive oeuvre is considered a bellwether for the contemporary art market—nearly 1,400 of his works were auctioned off last year, with 58 going for more than $1 million, and 12 for more than $10 million. He leapt ahead of his frequent companion at the top of the auction rankings, Pablo Picasso, who did a mere $375 million in turnover on more than twice as many works sold.

China accounted for the largest share of auction turnover last year, at 37%, although a cooling economy there slowed the activity somewhat from 2013. The US and UK, by contrast, posted double-digit percentage gains in turnover, with art buyers feeling flush and apparently craving Campbell Soup.

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