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Warhol artworks bring in more than US$100 mil. at New York auction

NEW YORK -- Two works from Andy Warhol's “Death and Disaster” series sold for a combined US$100 million Tuesday and a Barnett Newman painting went for an artist record of US$84.2 million in fierce New York auction bidding.

Warhol's “Race Riot, 1964” — a provocative four-panel painting of unrest in Birmingham, Alabama — went for US$62.9 million at Christie's auction of postwar and contemporary works, far exceeding the estimate of US$45 million.

The work was a direct response to an article Warhol saw in Life magazine that ran with an image by Associated Press photographer Charles Moore.

Warhol's 1962 painting “White Marilyn,” completed shortly after Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe took her life, sold for US$41 million, well above its estimate of US$12 million to US$18 million.

Newman's “Black Fire I,” a 1961 canvas showing a thick column of black alongside smaller ribbons of white and black, surpassed his auction record set last year when “Onement VI” went for US$43.8 million at Sotheby's.

The New York artist died in 1970 at age 65.

Christie's sold 68 pieces Tuesday, raising more than US$744 million. All prices included the buyer's premium.

Francis Bacon's “Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards” sold for US$80.8 million. The price surged quickly from an opening bid of US$50 million.

The 1984 work came onto the market a year after Christie's sold Bacon's 1969 “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” for US$142.4 million, setting a world record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

Bacon, who died in 1992, named Edwards his sole heir. Edwards oversaw the British artist's archives until his death in 2003. The three-panel work shows him in a relaxed pose sitting on a stool with his right leg crossed over his left knee.

Christie's says it is one of the greatest paintings from the artist's late period.

Mark Rothko's “Untitled,” a large abstract oil painting with colors ranging from a silvery mist to a deep violet, fetched US$66.2 million.

Jeff Koons' “Jim Beam J.B. Turner Train,” a 3-meter long stainless steel sculpture filled with bourbon, sold for US$33.8 million. His “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold last spring for US$58.4 million, setting a world auction record for a living artist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's seminal 1981 painting of a regal warrior figure sold for US$34.9 million. The work, replete with graffiti imagery and text, marked the New York artist's “transcendence from the leading figure on the underground art scene to the established world of international art stardom,” Christie's said.

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This undated photo provided by Christie's shows Andy Warhol's 1964 “Race Riot,” in four parts painted with acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen. (AP)

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