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Artnet Top Ten

The sale of Andy Warhol's 1964 Orange Marilyn for $17.3 million at Sotheby's New York in 1998 (reportedly to magazine magnate and art supercollector S.I. Newhouse) underlined something most art-world observers already knew -- the heroically nationalistic American Pop art movement had become similarly larger-than-life on the art market.

Herewith, a survey of the auction records of classic Pop works from the 1960s (and late 1950s) by ten top Pop artists. The disparity in price levels is dramatic, evidence for the truism that a certain amount of unpredictability underlies collector enthusiasms. Record prices were set at various times: the height of the 1980s art boom (Dine, Johns), in the equally robust market of the late 1990s (Rosenquist, Warhol), in the uncertain but nevertheless vigorous market of the last few years (Indiana, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Ruscha) and at other periods (Rauschenberg).

As always, the results are taken from Artnet's signature Fine Art Auctions Database; subscriptions begin at $29.95 (for more info, go to member services).

Andy Warhol
Orange Marilyn
silkscreen on canvas with synthetic polymer, 40 x 40 in.
at Sotheby's New York
May 14, 1998
Jasper Johns
False Start
oil on canvas, ca. 68 x 53 in.
at Sotheby's New York
Nov. 10, 1988
Robert Rauschenberg
oil and collage on canvas, 96 x 131 in.
at Sotheby's New York
Apr. 30, 1991
Roy Lichtenstein
Happy Tears
magma on canvas, 38 x 38 in.
at Christie's New York
Nov. 13, 2002
Edward Ruscha
Talk about Space
oil on canvas, ca. 71 x 67 in.
at Christie's New York
May 14, 2002
Wayne Thiebaud
Bakery Counter
oil on canvas, ca. 55 x 72 in.
at Christie's New York
May 7, 1997
NOTE: The auction record for a work by Thiebaud is $3,089,500, set at Sotheby's New York on Nov. 12, 2002, for the non-Pop-era painting Freeways (1975-79).
Tom Wesselmann
Great American Nude #44
acrylic on board with paper collage, radiator, telephone, coat, painting and door, ca. 81 x 106 in.
at Christie's New York
May 14, 2002
Claes Oldenburg
Light Switches -- Hard Version
painted wood with formica and metal, ca. 48 x 48 in.
at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg New York
Nov. 11, 2002
Jim Dine
acrylic on canvas, 8 x 6 in.
at Sotheby's New York
Nov. 8, 1989
Robert Indiana
The American Sweetheart
oil on board, 96 x 48 in.
at Christie's New York
May 14, 2002
Other record prices for Pop artists include $467,500 for Larry Rivers, $464,500 for Richard Lindner, $440,000 for James Rosenquist, $187,000 for Mel Ramos, $176,000 for Ed Kienholz, $92,750 for Marisol and $19,800 for Allan D'Arcangelo. The auction record for Richard Artschwager, $990,000, was set in 1989 for a 1972 work; a 1964 acrylic, Sailors, sold for $343,500 in 1994. The record for a George Segal sculpture is $660,000 for a 1989 bronze (in an edition of six); his high price for a Pop era work is $528,000.