|After Lunch, Berthe Morisot, 1881|
Quantitative easing and low interest rates may partially explain the froth in the art market as money always needs a home, but economics doesn't explain the ever upward rise of prices paid for contemporary art.
Over one third of Christie's sales in 2013 derived from their contemporary and modern art sales ($2bn).
In one week in November, both auction houses achieved their highest ever single auction sales - Christie's with a world record $691.5m followed the next day by Sotheby's ($380.6bn).
These two sales broke a number of records for single works. Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud, sold by Christie's for $142.4m became the most expensive artwork ever sold, followed by Andy Warhol's Silver Car Crash, sold by Sotheby's for $105m.Works by Cy Twombly and Brice Marden also set new records.
And, more quietly, the year saw Louise Bourgeois' record for the highest price paid for a work by a female artist broken by the Impressionist painting, After Lunch, by Berthe Morisot. The work, painted in 1881, was sold by Christie's in February for $10.9m, making it the most expensive artwork by a woman.