Pablo Picasso remained the world's bestselling artist in 2006, for the 10th consecutive year.
Art lovers around the world continue to treasure the works of Pablo Picasso, who once again reigned over an annual list of the world's bestselling artists.
For the 10th consecutive year, Picasso has been named the top-selling artist of the past year by Artprice, an international agency that monitors art sales and auctions around the world.
The Cubist master remained on top in 2006, with sales of his work totalling $339.2 million US. The Spanish artist's 1941 portrait Dora Maar au chat also achieved the year's top price at auction: $85 million US.
For the third year running, pop artist Andy Warhol claimed the No. 2 spot in Artprice's list of the top-selling artists, with his creations fetching $199.4m US.
In its annual Art Market Trends report, Artprice dubbed Warhol the "unquestioned star of the New York contemporary art sales" and reported that 43 Warhol pieces each broke the $1 million US barrier.
Works by Gustav Klimt rocketed to third place on the Artprice bestseller list, up from his 2005 ranking of 359th, because of the appearance of five major Klimt paintings that turned up for sale after a long-running restoration battle. The Austrian government returned the works to the heirs of the original owners, whose property had been looted by the Nazis.
The acclaimed painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I ó dubbed the Golden Adele ó was privately sold to New York's Neue Gallerie (founded by cosmetics magnate and art collector Ronald Lauder) for a record-setting $135 million US. The four other works subsequently sold for a total of $192 million US at a Christie's auction.
Rounding out the Top 10 bestselling artists of 2006 are:
* Willem de Kooning ($107.4 million US)
* Amedeo Modigliani ($90.7 million US)
* Marc Chagall ($89 million US)
* Egon Schiele ($79.1 million US)
* Paul Gauguin ($62.3 million US)
* Henri Matisse ($59.7 million US)
* Roy Lichtenstein ($59.7 million US)
Aside from Picasso's Dora Maar au chat and Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, which Christie's sold for $78.5 million US in New York, 2006's record-setting auction house sales included:
* Gauguin's L'homme à la hache ($36 million US)
* Vincent van Gogh's L'Arlésienne, Madame Ginoux ($36 million US)
* Klimt's Birch Forest ($36 million US)
The prices listed do not include the buyer's premium charged by the auction houses.
New collectors drive prices up: report
Picasso's 1941 painting Dora Maar au Chat was the top-selling work at auction in 2006.
"Art prices continued their ascension in 2006," the Artprice report said.
"Driven by galloping prices and a whole new generation of rich art collectors, the number of over-a-million-dollar sales has taken off. Today's prices are in effect without precedent."
While the actual number of sales appears to be falling in recent years, the volume of works at each sale is growing, the report said.
The U.S. leads the world's art markets, holding nearly 46 per cent of the market share in 2006. London placed second and continues to lead in Europe, but art officials are also now looking to new markets like China, Russia and the Middle East.
Fine art auctioneers Christie's and Sotheby's continued their dominance of the upper ranks of the international auction scene in 2006 and "virtually monopolize sales of a million dollars and over," Artprice said.
The average price of an artwork sold by Christie's or Sotheby's in 2006 was $91,805 US. In comparison, the average price of an artwork sold at other auction houses is $7,156.
Canada's Group of Seven is among the list of art movements Artprice singled out as "posting the sharpest price inflation" in the past decade. Other movements gaining interest from buyers are the Cologne Group, Arte Povera, English Pop Art, Contemporary Indian Art, Minimal Art, the London School, Chinese Avant Garde, Posterism and Purism.