As the European debt crisis roiled financial markets in 2011, the value of the most expensive works of art sold at auction fell 41 percent.
The priciest 10 lots amounted to $413.6m, compared with a tally of $698.6m in 2010, according to Bloomberg News calculations.
With a dearth of major estates and masterpieces by market stars, not a single artwork crossed the $100m threshold in 2011.
Evening sales of Impressionist and modern art in London and New York dropped by 21 percent from last year; their postwar and contemporary counterparts fared better, gaining 35 percent, according to the calculations.
Together, the major auctions, including private collections, in these categories at Sotheby’s and Christie’s International tallied $3bn, just beating the $2.9bn in 2010.
Museum-quality works by undervalued artists, from Old Masters to postwar set records and ignited bidding wars.