Rothko, Jasper Johns star at NYC art auction

NEW YORK (AP) — An abstract painting by Mark Rothko sold for $45 million on the second day of New York’s post-war and contemporary art auctions.

It was the first time Rothko’s “No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)” had been offered at auction, though it didn’t top its pre-sale high estimate of $50 million. Art benefactors Pierre and Sao Schlumberger had purchased the painting directly from Rothko’s estate.

The sale comes a day after the auction house sold two other paintings by Rothko for a total of more than $76 million. It came from the estate of Listerine fortune heir Rachel “Bunny” Mellon.

Also up for bid Tuesday at Sotheby’s was one of Jasper Johns’ iconic flag paintings. It sold for $36 million, a record price for the artist’s work at auction.