Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This gigantic sum raised the bar yet again as it outstripped the previous all-time high of $691.6m (£452m) set by the same sale in the same rooms last year (although the 2013 sale comprised 69 lots compared to the 80 here).

Last year's sale included a $127m (£83m) Francis Bacon triptych which set a new high for any lot - a record price that still stands - but here it was works by Andy Warhol (1928-87) that dominated. The nine works by the American pop artist that sold on November 12 contributed almost a quarter of the auction total.

In particular there were the two silkscreen ink paintings, Triple Elvis (Ferus Type) and Four Marlons, which featured repeated images of Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando respectively. They came from the collection of German gambling chain WestSpiel and had been acquired in the late 1970s to decorate the walls of their casino in Aachen. Before the sale, the company's prescient managing director, Lothar Dunkel said: "Given the current strength of the market, especially for works by Andy Warhol, it is now the right moment to part from these works."

No artist exudes the current spirit of the Contemporary art market more than Andy Warhol and, although prices took a nosedive during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, they bounced back and surpassed pre-crash levels.

The auctioneers were clearly confident of interest here and had placed fully-backed guarantees on both lots. First up was Triple Elvis (Ferus Type), which was offered with an unpublished estimate (believed to be around $60m) but which eventually sold at $73m (£47.7m) to an anonymous telephone buyer. This was the highest individual price of the sale and the second highest Warhol auction price ever, behind only the $94m (£61.5m) hammer for  Car Crash (Double Disaster) achieved at Sotheby's New York in November last year.

Then came Four Marlons, which also had an unpublished estimate and fetched $62m (£40.5m) hammer, selling to a buyer on the phone.

Overall, the sale saw an impressive 75 of the 80 lots get away (94%) and the sold-by-value rate was even higher at 97%. A total of 11 artist records were broken, including those for Cy Twombly (1928-2011) - $62m/£40.5m was the joint second highest price of the auction along with Four Marlons - Ed Ruscha (b.1937) at $27m/£17.6m - and Peter Doig (b.1959) whose high now stands at $16m/£10.5m.

Rothko at Sotheby's

Meanwhile at Sotheby's the previous evening the top lot was provided by Mark Rothko's (1903-70) No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange) sold to a telephone buyer at $40m (£26.1m). It was one of 13 lots from the collection of Pierre and Sao Schlumberger, of which nine works sold for a hammer total of $55.12m (£36m).

The auction also set a record for Jasper Johns (b.1930) as one of his Flag paintings attracted considerable interest and overshot a $15m-20m estimate to sell at $32m.

Sotheby's auction saw 67 of the 78 lots sell (86%) for a premium-inclusive total of $343.7m (£224.6m). Their figures for the week were bolstered by a separately-staged sale of works from the collection of the late Rachel Lambert 'Bunny' Mellon, who together with her husband Paul had formed one of world's most formidable art-buying partnerships.

All of the 43 lots offered on November 10 sold for $158.7m (£103.7m) total including premium and the sale was also led by a Rothko work - an untitled abstract that took $35.5m (£23.2m).

With sales at Phillips and Bonhams also adding to the mix, the total for the week including auctioneers' fees was $1.63bn (£1.07bn). Adding to the amount generated by the Impressionist & Modern sales the previous week, the combined $2.22bn was beyond all previous records. Never before had such a gargantuan amount of money had changed hands over an auction fortnight.

Exchange rate: £1 = $1.53

The buyer's premium at these sales was 25/20/12%.