A Piet Mondrian Painting Sold for a Record Breaking $51 Million at Auction

A rare Mondrian composition from 1930 broke the artist's auction record during a Sotheby's evening sale.

Auction room during the Sotheby's modern art sale
Sotheby’s auction room during its modern art evening sale. Courtesy of Sotheby's

A Piet Mondrian composition sold for $51 million during Sotheby's evening sales on Nov. 14, a historic auction record for the Dutch artist.

Surpassing Mondrian’s previous benchmark, when a 2015 Christie’s auction realised $50.5 million for a 1929 painting, the Sotheby’s sale was the first time Mondrian’s 1930 Composition No. II appeared at auction since 1983 when it sold for $2.15 million, at the time an artist record for Mondrian.

The composition is particularly unusual due its prominent use of the color red, which Mondrian rarely used during his mature period in the 1920s and 1930s.

Red, blue and yellow squares making up Mondrian composition
Piet Mondrian’s Composition No. II (1930). Courtesy of Sotheby's

The piece went to an Asian collector, according to a Sotheby’s press release. The auction also included works from the collections from David Solinger, the late president of the Whitney Museum, and William Paley, the late CBS founder and president of the Museum of Modern Art.

Bringing in $391.2 million in total, Sotheby’s evening sales also established the second highest artist auction records for English sculptor Henry Moore and Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka, with works selling for $31 million and $14.1 million, respectively.

A Piet Mondrian Painting Sold for a Record Breaking $51 Million at Auction