(Bloomberg News) The market for trophy art roared back after a three-night case of the blahs as Christie's International saw its biggest tally for a New York evening contemporary-art sale since May 2008.

All but three of the 65 lots sold last night, with Cy Twombly and Richard Diebenkorn paintings setting records and a Cindy Sherman fetching the highest price ever for a photo at auction, $3.9 million.

The $301.7 million total surpassed the $299 million high presale estimate and was the closely held auctioneer's largest in the category since the market was sideswiped by the world financial crisis.

The top lot was Andy Warhol's 1963-64 "Self- Portrait," made of four photo-booth-strip images in different shades of blue.

It went for $38.4 million, above the $30 million high estimate, after a tortuous-some dealers said tedious-bidding war between private art dealer Philippe Segalot and a telephone client of Brett Gorvy, deputy chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's. The price was an auction record for a Warhol portrait.

Dealers said the evening offered rarer works than Sotheby's $128.1 million contemporary sale the previous night. Collectors and dealers had likewise complained that the two Impressionist and modern evening sales last week skimped on masterpieces.

'Night And Day'

"It's like night and day," said Lucy Mitchell-Innes, a New York art dealer. Sotheby's on Tuesday night "was dreary and a real struggle. It's all about quality."

Both of the major Sotheby's New York evening sales were at the low end of their estimates. The auctioneer's shares are off 23% since April 5.

Another highlight at Christie's was an undocumented 1961 painting by Mark Rothko that went for $33.7 million, above the high presale estimate of $22 million. Classical postwar works by Roy Lichtenstein, Alexander Calder and Sam Francis brought strong results.