• Press release
  • |
  • New York
  • |
  • For immediate release
  • |
  • 19 April 2022

Jackson Pollock Masterpiece Will Lead Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale 

Number 31
signed and dated 'Jackson Pollock 49' (upper left)
oil, enamel, aluminum paint and gesso on paper mounted on Masonite
31 x 22 ½ in. (78.7 x 57.2 cm.)
Executed in 1949.
Estimate on request; in excess of $45 million

NEW YORK - Christie’s is honored to announce that Jackson Pollock’s Number 31, 1949 will lead the 20th Century Evening Sale taking place 12 May 2022 at Rockefeller Plaza (Estimate on request; in excess of $45 million). Painted in 1949, the work is among the richest and most powerful examples of Pollock’s celebrated drip paintings, standing as an icon from a seminal moment in the development of twentieth-century art. It has been featured in a number of important exhibitions, including the 1967 Jackson Pollock MoMA retrospective in addition to the 1998 retrospective mounted at MoMA and The Tate. Held in the same private collection for over two decades, the work is incredibly fresh to market.

Pollock executed Number 31 during a flurry of brilliant artistic activity during the end of 1949. The work was subsequently exhibited with Pollock’s new dealer Betty Parsons later that year where critics described the exhibition as “the best painting he has yet done.” Number 31 will tour to Christie’s Los Angeles where it will be on view from 19 – 22 April before returning to New York ahead of the sale.

Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, remarks, “In the late 1940s, Pollock’s drip paintings categorically redefined how we understand art. This moment saw the art world’s center of gravity shift for the first time away from the museums and galleries of Paris and into the streets of New York. With his revolutionary new technique, Pollock effectively upended the existing framework of traditional painting practices. True drip paintings were—and still are—the ultimate in mid-century American avant-garde, and are rare to come across in the secondary market. Number 31 is a superb example. It is a fantastic, frenetic combination of rich hues—straight from the paint can. It stands as a brilliant demonstration of Pollock’s rigor and effusiveness and we are thrilled to feature it as the top lot in Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale this Spring Marquee Week.”

Essentially an unknown artist in the early 1940s, Pollock first began exploring his now infamous drip painting technique in 1948. By the latter half of 1949, Pollock had found himself catapulted to success as a result of the popularity of this body of work, with paintings acquired by five major museums and 40 prominent private collections. By the time he created Number 31, Pollock had truly mastered the process. Pollock created only thirteen of these drip paintings on paper in 1949—each then mounted onto Masonite, composition board or canvas. Only eight of these display the gleaming, metallic paint employed in Number 31, one of the fullest and most opulent compositions of the group.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.