(Bloomberg News) As the European debt crisis roiled financial markets in 2011, the value of the most expensive works of art sold at auction fell 41 percent.
The priciest 10 lots amounted to $413.6 million, compared with a tally of $698.6 million in 2010, according to Bloomberg News calculations.
With a dearth of major estates and masterpieces by market stars, not a single artwork crossed the $100 million threshold in 2011, compared to two pieces the previous year: Pablo Picasso's 1932 painting "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," which fetched $106.5 million at Christie International, and Alberto Giacometti's bronze "Walking Man," which sold for 65 million pounds (then $103.4 million) at Sotheby's.
Evening sales of Impressionist and modern art in London and New York dropped by 21 percent from last year; their postwar and contemporary counterparts fared better, gaining 35 percent, according to Bloomberg News calculations. Together, the major auctions, including private collections, in these categories at Sotheby's and Christie's International tallied $3 billion, just beating the $2.9 billion in 2010.
Museum-quality works by undervalued artists, from Old Masters to postwar set records and ignited bidding wars.
Here are the year's 10 most valuable artworks at auction.
1. A large abstract painting by Clyfford Still fetched a record $61.7 million at Sotheby's on Nov. 9, surpassing the reclusive artist's previous auction high of $21.3 million. The brooding canvas, "1949-A-No.1," led a group of four Still lots consigned by the City of Denver to raise money for the endowment of the Clyfford Still Museum, which opened in November. The group tallied $114.1 million.
2. Roy Lichtenstein's 1961 painting of a man looking through a peephole sold for $43.2 million at Christie's International on Nov. 8, setting a record for the pop artist. Titled "I Can See the Whole Room!... And There's Nobody in It!" it was consigned by Courtney Ross, the widow of former Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Steven J. Ross.
3. An 18th-century view of Venice's Grand Canal by Francesco Guardi fetched 26.7 million pounds ($42.7 million) at Sotheby's on July 6, a record for the artist and the second-highest price paid at auction for an Old Master painting. Dating from the late 1760s, the work was consigned by heirs of the Conservative politician Paul Channon, who died in 2007. The record auction price for an Old Master is 49.5 million pounds for Peter Paul Rubens's "Massacre of the Innocents" at Sotheby's London in 2002.
4. Pablo Picasso's painting of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter sold for 25.2 million pounds ($40.5 million) at Sotheby's on Feb. 8. Painted in 1932 -- the same year as Picasso's Walter- inspired "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" -- "La Lecture" attracted seven bidders and was bought by a client of Mark Poltimore, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe, who works with Russian buyers.