The spring art auctions have set new records, but also started to show some cracks in the foundation. The results have left collectors, auction houses and art enthusiasts wondering whether the boom has gone bust.
A Francis Bacon painting fetched $86.3 million at a Sotheby's (BID - Get Report) auction Wednesday night, making it the most expensive piece of contemporary art ever sold. That auction set records for 17 other artists -- and that figure doesn't include records for Claude Monet ($41.5 million), Alberto Giacometti ($27.5 million), Auguste Rodin ($19 million) and Joan Miró ($17.1 million) at a Christie's auction earlier in the month.
Still, more than half of the lots sold in the contemporary evening sales sold below the average estimate, according to ArtTactic, an art-market research firm.
Several pieces -- including those by Picasso, van Gogh, Monet and Matisse -- did not reach minimum estimates, and a hefty portion of works were left unsold. Bidders were sparse even for the record-setting lots, indicating fewer, more selective buyers.