Mondrian painting sells for record $50.6 million in New York auction

NEW YORK (AFP) - A painting by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian sold Thursday for US$50.56 million (S$66.83 million) at a Christie's auction in New York, the most ever paid for his work.

Composition No. III, with Red, Blue, Yellow and Black, a geometric oil painting made in 1929, sold at an impressionist and modern art auction for more than twice its maximum estimated value, which Christie's said was between US$15 million and US$25 million.

The simple yet striking painting features a white background with horizontal and vertical lines that traverse the canvas to create squares and rectangles, some of which are filled in red, blue, yellow or black.

The sale comfortably beat out the previous record set for a Mondrian - US$27.59 million for Composition with Red, Blue and Grey, which was purchased last year.

It comes after several auction records were smashed in the art world this week, with multiple works fetching tidy sums and setting new benchmarks.

On Monday, a masterpiece by Pablo Picasso and a statue by Alberto Giacometti broke world records for the most expensive art sold at auction, fetching more than US$179 million and US$141 million respectively.

On Wednesday, abstract expressionist Mark Rothko's No. 10 sold for US$81.92 million at Christie's, one of the highest sums ever shelled out for his work.