Roy Lichtenstein sale sets new record

The hammer drops on Roy Lichtenstein's Sleeping Girl and Andy Warhol's Double Elvis

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A work by Roy Lichtenstein has sold at auction for nearly $45m, a new record for the US Pop Art icon.

Sleeping Girl, from 1964, went for $44.9m (£27.8m) at Sotheby's New York sale of post-war and contemporary art.

The same sale saw Andy Warhol's Double Elvis, a life-sized silver silkscreen image of Elvis Presley depicted as a cowboy, fetch $37m (£23m).

The artwork, one of 22 Warhol dedicated to the famous singer, had been expected to sell for as much as $50m (£31m).

The sale came a day after another New York auction saw a 1961 painting by Mark Rothko set a new record for a contemporary artwork sold at auction.

Orange, red, yellow sold for $86.9m (£53.8m) at Christie's.

And last week, Sotheby's sold a version of Edvard Munch's The Scream for $119.9m (£74.3m), making it the most expensive artwork to go under the hammer.

Al Weiwei Al Weiwei exhibited his sunflower seed exhibition in London in 2011

Wednesday's sale also saw dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei sell a portion of his porcelain Sunflower Seeds installation for a record $782,500 (£484,919).

The lot comprised about a tenth of the 100 million seeds displayed at Tate Modern in 2011, where safety fears about ceramic dust saw them cordoned off from visitors.

A Francis Bacon work from 1976 went under the hammer as well, fetching almost as much as the Roy Lichtenstein canvas.

Yet while Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror sold for an impressive $44.8m (£27.8m), it only amounted to half of the record price set in 2008 when one of Bacon's Triptychs sold for $86.3m (£53.5m).

Tate Britain announced this week that it will host a major retrospective of Lichtenstein's work in spring 2013.

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