The Most Expensive Artworks Sold in 2021

into 2021. In-person events seemed poised to return, a possibility that would kickstart an art world that had scrambled to find replacements for the experience of viewing art in person. The year ended up being an experience in compromises, incorporating both COVID-necessitated distance and bouts of proximity when possible, but the secondary market seemed unequivocally healthier in comparison to the prior year. Lots once again rose above the $100 million mark after failing to do so in 2020 for the first time in years, and new entrants in the realm of crypto-backed NFTs signaled hope for the future. The most expensive artworks sold at auction in 2021 may be mostly dominated by familiar faces—male artists from the 19th and 20th centuries—but that may be a signal that we are coming back to business as usual, for better or worse.