Prosperity Index

What soared and what crashed during this record-setting auction year; plus a preview of the two most anticipated sales coming up this spring.

• The 15 minutes are still ticking for Andy Warhol, whose 1963 silk-screen painting Liz brought $12.6 million at Sotheby's.

• Despite huge buzz, Zwei Reiter und liegende Gestalt (circa 1909–10), an oil painting by Wassily Kandinsky, crashed unsold at Sotheby's with bidding ending at $11.3 million.

• An oak-and-glass table made in 1949 by Italian designer Carlo Mollino sold at Christie's for $3.8 million, double the previous record for a piece of 20th-century furniture.

• Marlon Brando's annotated Godfather script fetched $312,800 (much higher than the estimate of $10,000) at a Christie's sale.

• A 14th-century porcelain Yuan jar sold at Christie's London for $27.7 million, eclipsing the previous record for an Asian work by $18.5 million.

• Canaletto's painting Venice, the Grand Canal, Looking Northeast from Palazzo Balbi to the Rialto Bridge went for $32.7 million at Sotheby's London.

• At a Christie's special sale celebrating the bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar, a beaver-skin hat believed to have been worn by Napoléon went for $116,000.

• The Rose of Dubai, a 25-carat pink diamond, realized $6 million at Christie's, with more than four bidders fiercely competing to acquire the gem.

• Sotheby's sale of furniture and decorations from the Safra collection brought $49 million; a Louis XVI bureau plat made for the Duc de Choiseul sold for $4.7 million.

• David Smith's stainless-steel sculpture Cubi XXVIII (1965) was snapped up for $23.8 million at Sotheby's, making it the most expensive contemporary work ever sold at auction.

• An ASC (Aoshin) crank-handle action robot war boat, from toy collector Paul Lips's cache of robots and space toys, made $31,500 at Christie's.

• A painted Pennsylvania candle box ($8,000–$12,000 estimate) soared all the way to $744,825, becoming the highest-priced piece ever sold by Freemans, a 200-year-old auction house in Philadelphia.

• Titian's Portrait of a Lady and Her Daughter, a much-touted rediscovery, failed to find a buyer at Christie's London.

• Christie's started the new year by scoring $21.2 million for a portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale.

• Mile High's copy of Flash Comics #1 made $273,125 at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas.

• A GM Futureliner Bus (1950) sold for $4.3 million at Barrett-Jackson in Phoenix.

• No single vintage photograph had crossed the $1 million barrier until Sotheby's sale of works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Edward Steichen's The Pond–Moonlight went for $2.9 million.

• Edvard Munch's Summer Day—part of a trove of his works assembled by Norwegian shipping magnate Thomas Olsen that brought huge prices at Sotheby's London—went for a record $9 million.


May 2006: The Big Event
Works by Van Gogh and Picasso claim seven of the top ten auction prices of all time. Going on the block in May: Van Gogh's 1890 L'Arlensienne, Madame Ginoux at Christie's and Picasso's Dora Maar au chat, 1941, at Sotheby's. Each is expected to bring more than $40 million.