The fine art market is hotter than ever, with art auctions bringing in a record $11.5 billion last year, a 21 per cent increase from 2010.
And contemporary art has been particularly hot.
Our friends New York-based art investment advisory firm Artvest helped us find the 15 top-selling contemporary works of art sold at auction last year by artists who are still living.
And, in case any of these artists pique your interest, we’ve included some information about the galleries where they are selling.
The artist: Gursky's murky, desolate photo of the Rhine fetched the highest price ever seen for a photograph.
Both Gursky and Christie's, the auction house where the photo was purchased, noted the artwork's bleak style.
Christie's called it 'a dramatic and profound reflection on human existence and our relationship to nature on the cusp of the 21st century,' according to The Guardian.
The gallery: Art-world giant Gagosian Gallery is the place to purchase Andreas Gursky's work. The 20,000-square-foot space has also played host to art-world darlings such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Ellen Gallagher.
The gallery is so influential that New York Magazine said an artist's show at Gagosian 'is the flashing neon announcement that an artist has made it.'
The artist: One of Hollywood's most famous visual artists, McCarthy works out of his version of a movie studio -- an industrial shed big enough to house aeroplanes, writes The Guardian's Jonathan Jones.
McCarthy is known for his wild, highly visual experiments that often mock American classics, such as Walt Disney or the revered Western-style movies.
In the 1970s, he filmed himself wearing a women's silver wig in the bathtub, while stuffing his face with raw meat -- which he eventually threw up before continuing to eat more -- and slathering his genitals with kitchen sauces, Jones writes.
The gallery: Paul McCarthy's creations can be found at international powerhouse Hauser & Wirth.
The gallery, which first opened in Zurich, has played host to major artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Martin Creed. It recently opened a space in Chelsea.
The artist: The sculptor took his art to new heights in 2010. He installed 100 cast-iron statues of himself in the countryside of the Austrian Alps.
According to an article written by The Guardian at the time, the statues were meant to prompt skiers, hikers, and tourists to question human existence.
'People shouldn't know what they think,' Gormley told The Guardian. 'It would be very boring if they didn't think 'What the hell is thing doing here?' or 'This is completely crazy.''
The gallery: The prestigious Sean Kelly Gallery is home to Antony Gormley's work.
Before opening his gallery, Sean Kelly worked with British museums. With the opening of his SoHo gallery, Kelly earned a reputation for working hands-on with his artists.
The artist: Another child of the Cultural Revolution, Fanzhi told The New York Times he was influenced by the political and cultural climate in which he grew up, yet his work remains deeply personal.
'I grew up in the environment of the Cultural Revolution and all these ideologies take a lot of space in my mind, but when I paint I just want to portray my inner feeling and the people around me,' he told the newspaper while attending an opening of his work in Singapore. 'I've never been interested in my art becoming symbols of political ideas.'
The gallery: Mega-gallery Gagosian Gallery boasts Fanzhi's art.
When Gagosian poached Fanzhi's work, it was seen as a 'very public way for the gallery to claim territory in Chinese art sales,' according Blouin Art Info.
The artist: The New York Times dubbed 'Faena de Muleta' 'one of the most remarkable Contemporary works of art seen at auction.'
The Mallorca-born artist is known for mixing the primitivism of Art Brut with prehistoric art.
He is also the man behind the painting that graces the dome ceiling of the United Nations' European headquarters. He used more than 100 tons of paint to create the $23 million painting, which features dangling icicle shapes.
The gallery: Barcelo's works can be found at Malborough Gallery.
The prestigious gallery has become a 'continent-spanning mega-gallery representing the brightest stars of the art-world firmament,' according to New York Magazine.
The artist: Through her installations, Noland addresses 'the failed promise of the American Dream and the divide between fame and anonymity,' according to Art Nouveau.
During an interview with the Journal of Contemporary Art, Noland explained the pervasive presence of violence in her art, saying that 'violence used to be part of life in America and had a positive reputation.'
The gallery: Paula Cooper Gallery is the place to find Noland's work. Time Out New York calls her gallery 'an impressive art temple' that is known for housing minimalist and conceptual artists.
The artist: Fischer's art focuses on 'three-dimensional objects made from materials not usually associated with art,' according to Calvin Tomkins of The New Yorker.
One of his most memorable installations was called 'What If the Phone Rings?' and featured three lifelike wax sculptures of nude women. At the beginning of the show, Fischer lit the statues' wicks and they melted until the end of the show.
The gallery: Gavin Brown's Enterprise, the home of Urs Fischer's art, has become the hot spot for young artists, especially since Brown installed a bar.
The gallery featured work such as Elizabeth Peyton's paintings of Kurt Cobain and Chris Ofili's polarising work.
Recently, Brown turned his original space into a bar that hosts performance art and moved his gallery to Greenwich Street.
The artist: Prince has made a name for himself 'for documenting in great depth the underbelly of demotic American culture,' according to Vanity Fair's Steven Daly.
He's known for his re-photographs, especially the one of the Marlboro-ad cowboys, his pictures of bikers' molls and his 'Nurse Paintings.'
But Prince wasn't always an art-scene darling. He started his career working for Time Inc.
The gallery: Gagosian Gallery, the same giant that represents many other heavy hitters, also houses Prince's work. The gallery has three New York locations and has hosted many Prince exhibitions, beginning in 1979.
The artist: Like many of his peers, the Cultural Revolution plays an important role in Xiaogang's work. He used his parents' photographers, set during the revolution, as inspiration for his paintings.
Through his melding of charcoal-like portraits with modern pop art, Xiaogang changed the direction of Chinese contemporary art, according to David Barboza with Art Zine.
The gallery: Pace Gallery serves as home base for Xiaogang's paintings. The creation of the gallery can be traced back to 1973 when Arne Glimcher flew to Paris to meet Daniel Wildenstein, an Impressionist dealer.
Pace has since become one of the world's most powerful contemporary art galleries, reports The Wall Street Journal's Kelly Crow.
Glimcher began the process of transferring the gallery in 2011 to Marc, his younger son.
The artist: The New York Times dubbed Wou-Ki 'arguably China's most important living artist.'
Wou-Ki left China for France a year before Mao Zedong took power, which influenced Wou-Ki's painting style, as well as his following.
However, despite his move, Wou-Ki held on to his Chinese roots, which resulted in a style that includes an
expressionist take on Chinese landscape painting,' according to a CNNGo article by Christopher DeWolf.
The gallery: Wou-Ki's art can be found at the Marlborough Gallery. The gallery was founded in 1963 and initially sat at Madison Avenue and 57th St.
The gallery also has outposts in Chelsea, London, and Madrid, among others.
The artist: In an interview with The Guardian, Doig said his work often begins with a photograph.
'The photographic element is usually only a part of the composition - something that involves perspective or dimension for which I need a reference,' Doig said.
Doig said he experiments with paints, often letting them get old in the jars, to find new colours and textures for his art.
The gallery: Gavin Brown's Enterprise, the gallery for Doig's work, is also home to artwork by James Angus, Martin Creed, and Urs Fischer, among others.
In 2010, the gallery presented a large exhibition by Martin Creed, which was the gallery's third solo exhibition with Creed.
The artist: Beijing-born Ruzhou's paintings are known for their bold strokes and his 'romantic rendering of nature and landscapes,' according to Life of Guangzhou.
Ruzhou is known for his ink finger paintings that depict flowers, birds, and landscapes.
His fans include Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and Thailand's royal family.
The gallery: Ruzhou's paintings are sold at auction, but not a specific gallery.
The artist: A controversial artist, Koons often transforms 'banal items into sumptuous icons,' according to PBS' Art 21.
His creations play with scale and surfaces, often producing a 'contextual sleight of hand.'
He took on a new role in 2010 as a curator, organising for the New Museum of Contemporary Art an exhibition of works from Dakis Joannou's collection.
The gallery: Gagosian Gallery plays host to yet another powerful artist, serving as Koons' home base. Larry Gagosian, the owner and director, opened the first Gagosian Gallery in 1979 in Los Angeles, and later moved to New York.
The artist: Richter's recent retrospective at Tate, a British art gallery, was full of surprises, writes The Guardian's Adrian Searle.
The artist is known for pushing the boundaries. Panorama, Richter's Tate exhibit, portrays skulls and serial killers alongside a portrait of his daughter.
The gallery: Gerhard Richter's painting can be purchased at the legendary Marian Goodman Gallery.
In an extensive piece on Goodman, The Daily Beast's Blake Gopnik called the gallerist 'one of the world's most powerful dealers.'
While she's probably in her 80s, Goodman would only admit to being 39 years old when Gopnik spoke with her.
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