Stars bid for Crichton's art collection

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The Independent Culture

There was nothing make-believe about the prices paid at Christie's auction house in Manhattan when art belonging to the late science-fiction novelist Michael Crichton went under the hammer and drew enthusiastic bids from such ardent collectors Larry Gagosian and fashion designer Marc Jacobs.

Highlights from the estate of the Jurassic Park author, who died in 2008, included Robert Rauschenberg's 1964 work Trapeze, which sold for $6.4m (£4.3m). But no single lot caused more of a tremor than Flag by Jasper Johns, who turns 80 this weekend. Expected to fetch up to $15m, it went for $28.6m.

"It's a very fair price," said the winning bidder, who asked to remain anonymous. "It's an iconic picture, and it's probably the last opportunity we'll have to obtain a picture by one of the great American masters."

The collection harvested $93.3m, well in excess of the expected $23.7m, giving a boost to an arts market that sagged through much of the recession.

Auction drama

$28.6m 'Flag', Jasper Johns

$11m Studio paintings, Rauschenberg

$3.2m 'Push/pull', Tansey

$6.6m 'Femmes and fillettes', Picasso

$600,000 'Jim Beam', Koons