Cy Twombly blackboard covered in scribbles fetches $70 million at Sotheby’s

Untitled (New York City), 1968 broke a new record for Twombly at the Contemporary Art Evening sale

A blackboard covered in white scribbles by the American abstract artist Cy Twombly has fetched a record $70.5 million (£47 million) at auction at Sotheby’s last night.

The piece made history not only as the highest price lot in last night’s Contemporary Art Evening sale but also as the most expensive work sold at Sotheby’s worldwide so far this year.

Out of the 54 works on offer 44 found buyers and the auction house made sales totalling $294,850,000 bringing the auctioneers’ combined contemporary art sales to $434 million in 2015.

Any Warhol’s silkscreen painting of China’s late Communist leader, Mao (1972), was the second-highest price item of the evening, selling for $47.5 million. The 7ft tall work was made soon after Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China and was last auctioned in 1996 when it fetched $1 million.

Other highlights included Jackson Pollock’s Number 17 (1949) which went for nearly $23 million, Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attest (1965), which made $16 million and Francis Bacon’s Portrait 1962 which went for $15 million.

Earlier this week Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu Couche achieved the second-highest auction price for any work when it sold for $170.4 million at Christie’s.

The painting became the tenth work of art to sell for more than $100 million at auction.

The record is still held by Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) which went for $179.4 million at Christie’s in May.

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