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Sotheby’s sold a yellow-and-blue Mark Rothko abstract from 1954 for $46.5 million on Tuesday. The following night, archrival Christie’s International hollered back by selling a rust-colored, rectangular version that Rothko painted four years later for $82 million.

Dealers said Christie’s Rothko, “No. 10,” was prized in part because its blurry brown and black hues famously matched the somber mood of the artist at that time in his career. It sold to a telephone bidder.

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The lone bidder who spent $101 million at Sotheby’s last Tuesday night for Giacometti’s “Chariot,’’ a 1950 sculpture of a spindly woman riding atop a chariot, was the hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, experts with knowledge of the sale said Monday. The sculpture, which came from the collection of Alexander Goulandris, a member of the Greek shipping family, is considered among the artist’s finest.

“It’s one of the great 20th-century sculptures,’’ said William Acquavella, the Manhattan art dealer.

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Sotheby’s got New York’s fall auctions off to a rollicking start with a sale of Impressionist and modern art on Tuesday that totaled $422.1 million, the highest in the 270-year-old company’s history.

Leading the charge was Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s 1951-52 bronze “Chariot”—depicting a finger-thin woman riding atop a chariot—that sold to a telephone bidder for $101 million.

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Frans Verbeeck's "The Mocking of Human Follies" (c.1560) was sold at auction last night in Vienna for a staggering £2.3 million. The sum is an all-time record for the artist. It also marks one of the highest selling prices ever achieved at an Austrian auction.

The auction of the masterpiece took place last night at the Viennese headquarters of the Dorotheum's auction house. The Verbeeck painting is said to have caused quite a stir at the auction house's Old Master Paintings sale. According to the Austrian newspaper "The Local," the painting had a presale estimate of between £709,000 to £945,000. It is reported that the work was sold to an unnamed Flemish bidder - after a hard-fought bidding war.

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Last week at Sotheby’s auction house in London, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (809–4) sold to a telephone bidder for $34.2 million, the highest price paid for a living artist’s work at auction. Previously owned by musician and collector, Eric Clapton, the abstract painting was estimated to bring $14.1 million to $18.8 million.

Alex Branczik, Senior Director and Head of the Evening Auction of Contemporary Art, said, “The combination of outstanding provenance and gold-standard quality in this sublime work by this blue-chip artist made for an historic auction moment. Gerhard Richter’s international appeal as one of the hottest Contemporary artists was once again confirmed this evening.”

The German postwar painter, best known for his abstract and figurative works, was recently the subject of a critically acclaimed retrospective, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, at the Tate Modern in London, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and the Staatlichen Museum in Berlin. After the show, the prices of Richter’s works have continued to climb.

Friday’s sale beat out Jasper Johns’ Flag painting from the 1960s, which brought $28.6 million at Christie’s in 2010, for a living artist at auction. Richter, 80, lives in Cologne, Germany.

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