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.