Chinese Artist Dethrones Picasso as Top Auction Earner

  • Qi Bashi's work sold for a record $65 million at Guardian Auctions in Beijing.

    Qi Bashi's work sold for a record $65 million at Guardian Auctions in Beijing.

Sales of works by Picasso have ranked the modern master as the world auction market's leading earner for most years since 1997, and until 2011. Chinese artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) now claims the top slot, according to French research company Artprice.

Zhang generated $506.7 million in aggregated auction revenue in 2011, followed by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) with $445.1 million, making Chinese artists the top two auction earners.

Third place went to Andy Warhol with $324.8 million in total sales. Picasso is now fourth totaling $311.6 million in 2011, reports Artprice which tracks auction data.

Zhang's 1947 "Lotus and Mandarin ducks" brought HK$191 million ($24.5 million) at Sotheby's in Hong Kong in May 2011, a record for the artist.

The highest price paid for an artwork at auction last year was Qi's ink painting "Eagle Standing on Pine Tree; Four-Character Couplet in Seal Script" which fetched 425.5 million yuan ($65.5 million) at China Guardian Auctions Co. in Beijing in May 2011.

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