The Roy Lichtenstein 1964 painting "Ohhh...Alright..." was sold at Christie's auction of postwar and contemporary art on November 10 for a whopping $38 million or $42.6 million including Christie's fees (watch video of the moment here). The painting topped even a Warhol soup can and opener which fetched $23.9 million, considerably less than the $30-$50 million estimate. Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn was the seller. The buyer was an anonymous bidder on the phone. There was only this single bidder who had made a contractual agreement with the auction house before the sale.
The comic-book inspired image of a flaming redhead clutching a phone to her ear with a puzzling speech bubble is one of a group of dream-girls painted between 1961-1965 in Lichtenstein's signature Ben-Day dots. Some pundits claim collectors want instantly recognizable images. Another view is that the painter's iconic images are "safe" and rare, while Warhols seem to pop up on a regular basis. In any case, unlike the US economy, the contemporary art market appears to have regained its health.