Never underestimate the power of suggestion: On Tuesday, Sotheby’s hired waiters with silver trays to offer up tiny glass bottles of soda pop to collectors arriving for its major evening sale of contemporary art. Half an hour later, eight bidders fought over the sale’s priciest offering — Andy Warhol’s 1962 soda bottle, “Coca-Cola  [Large Coca-Cola].” A telephone bidder won it for $35.3 million, over its $25 million high estimate.
There’s a fresh fizz to the contemporary-art market these days that’s been largely driven by sales of Pop classics by Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. Pop’s cheery colors and reassuringly familiar objects such as crumbly pies and red lobsters appeal to jet-setting bidders who want to buy art again but aren’t ready to stretch for edgy unknowns.
Overall, Sotheby’s Pop works helped boost its $222.4 million total above the house’s own $214.4 million high expectations.
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