7 standout artworks from Sotheby’s and Christie’s fall auctions

November 4, 2014, 12:00 PM UTC
Warhol's Silver Car Crash Auctioned At Sotheby's Contemporary Art Auction
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Bidding representatives speak on the phone with their clients during an auction at Sotheby's on November 13, 2013 in New York City. The big seller of the night was Andy Warhol's artwork, "Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)" which sold for $104,445,000, a record for the famed artist. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Photograph by Andrew Burton—Getty Images

New York’s major fall auctions start Tuesday, and once the gavel descends bidding is expected to hit all time highs.

The city’s top auction houses, including powerhouses Christie’s and Sotheby’s (BID), are preparing for a global pool of collectors competing for more than $1.5 billion worth of fine art over the next two weeks.

The upcoming auctions will cover a range of periods, from postwar and contemporary to Impressionist and modern. Sotheby’s will kick off the season with its sales of Impressionist and modern art Tuesday followed by Christie’s sale in the same categories Wednesday, and both houses will launch bidding on postwar works the week following.

Many of these works are expected to fetch record values—Christie’s says its postwar and contemporary group alone could fetch more than $600 million, the highest pre-sale estimate ever for a single sale.

Here are seven of the standout pieces going up for auction that are expected to rake in top valuations and compete to make the list of most valuable auction price tags ever.

Alberto Giacometti's "Chariot"

Alberto Giacometti's Chariot sold for $101 million, surpassing pre-sale estimates.
  • House: Sotheby's
  • Giacometti's "Chariot" could sell for in excess of $100 million, according to Sotheby's co-head of Impressionist and modern art, Simon Shaw. That could surpass the $104.3 million paid for Giacometti's "Homme qui marche I" at auction in 2010.

Mark Rothko's "No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)"

  • House: Sotheby's
  • Rothko's "No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)" leads Sotheby's postwar and contemporary sales with a pre-sale estimate of more than $50 million. The artist's "Orange, Red and Yellow" from 1961 brought in a record for the artist of almost $87 million when Christie's auctioned the piece in 2012.

Andy Warhol's "Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)"

Andy Warhol’s 'Triple Elvis.'
  • House: Christie's
  • Warhol's "Triple Elvis (Ferus Type)" is one of two of the artist's pieces going up for bidding at Christie's this year. Including his "Four Marlons," the two works are expected to fetch more than $130 million.

Edouard Manet's "Le Printemps"

  • House: Christie's
  • Manet's "Le Printemps" is expected to set a record for the artist with an estimated value of up to $35 million. That would surpass the artist's previous record of $33.2 million.
  • "Le Printemps" is an exceptionally rare work, said Brooke Lampley, head of Impressionist and modern art at Christie's. It is the last of the artist's 30 pieces exhibited at the Salon in Paris to remain in private hands.

Amedeo Modigliani's "Tete"

  • House: Sotheby's
  • Modigliani's "Tete" is expected to fetch in excess of $45 million this time around. The artwork, which Sotheby's describes as representing "the dawn of Modern sculpture" when it was completed in 1912, last sold at auction in 2010 for $53 million including fees.

Vincent van Gogh's "Nature Morte, vase aux marguerites et coquelicots"

  • House: Sotheby's
  • Van Gogh's "Nature Morte" Impressionist masterpiece is expected to bring in anywhere from $30 million to $50 million when Sotheby's auctions the work Tuesday. The painting, which is currently held by Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., was completed toward the end of the artist's career following his release from the asylum at St-Rémy in 1890.

Francis Bacon's "Seated Figure"

  • House: Christie's
  • Bacon's "Seated Figure" is anticipated sell for up to $60 million when Christie's auctions the piece next week. The artist's triptych "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" set the record for the most expensive work of art ever auctioned when the pieces sold for $142.4 million last year. The "Seated Figure" is part of Bacon's series of Papal portraits.
  • "It is a rare occasion for a major Papal painting to be offered for auction," wrote Christie's in its catalog. The work was "virtually unseen by the public for 35 years" until it was acquired by its current owner in 1996.