May 14 - Contemporary art is hot. Barnett Newman's ''Black Fire I'' pulled off an upset of the night, selling for more than $84 million, in a record auction for Christie's. Fred Katayama reports.
SOUNDBITE: AUCTIONEER AT CHRISTIE'S (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Yours for $72 million!" Contemporary art is hot, hot, hot. Christie's set a record with the biggest auction take ever, selling almost $745 million worth of contemporary art Tuesday night. The highlight was supposed to be this triptych by Francis Bacon. It went for nearly $81 million. SOUNDBITE: AUCTIONEER AT CHRISTIE'S (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I'm selling it here for $75 million." But this abstract work, "Black Fire I," by American artist Barnett Newman pulled off the upset of the night, selling for more than $84 million. And Andy Warhol's image of Marilyn Monroe called "White Marilyn" rolled in the green. It sold for $41 million, more than double what was expected. The super rich are scooping up art. They see art as safe havens, and they're driving up prices. Bret Gorvy, international head of post war and contemporary art at Christie's, says the market isn't frothy. SOUNDBITE: BRET GORVY, CHAIRMAN AND INTERNATIONAL HEAD OF POST WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT CHRISTIE'S (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Everyone asked me last year, 'Are we in a bubble?' We're in the middle of a fantastic moment, a fantastic moment which is rising with great foundation stones, fantastic collectors and a very international spread." Many of the winning bids were from Asia. Asians have become dominant players in the art market. And they love contemporary art.