Warhol, Hirst and Koons among biggest sales at Basel art fair

ZURICH Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:37am EDT

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons were among the major pieces sold in Basel, Switzerland last week as art lovers and museums splashed their cash at what one gallery director called the art world equivalent to the World Economic Forum.

Art Basel - the world's top fair for modern and contemporary art and now in its 45th year - posted a record attendance of 92,000 over the show's six-day run that concluded on Sunday.

Gallery directors talked of strong sales as 285 galleries from 34 countries came to the Swiss city to showcase their works, with many pieces attracting multi-million dollar bids.

The 1986 self-portrait of a gaunt-looking Andy Warhol in a wig was sold with an asking price of $35 million. Turner prize winner Damien Hirst's 'Nothing is a Problem for Me' - a 1992 installation replicating a pharmacist's shelf - fetched just under $6 million, while a piece by American artist Jeff Koons was bought for $5 million.

A piece by British abstract sculptor Anthony Caro, who died in October, was sold for around $100,000.

"The market was very strong, particularly for certain types of work," Bona Montagu, a London-based director at Skarstedt Gallery which sold the Warhol self-portrait, told Reuters. Montagu said there was a particular interest in works from the 1980s.

Art Basel began in 1970 and now also runs shows in Miami in early December, the largest fair in North America, and Hong Kong.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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