Staggeringly high prices for art at the top end of the market
have made headlines in recent years, as an expanding class of
super-rich collectors in emerging markets and easy money from
the world's central banks have spurred prices to ever higher
Christie's Tuesday sale, which opened a series of auctions to be
held in London in February, showed the top-end art market was
Despite a legal setback just before the sale, which resulted in
the auction house having to withdraw a Miró collection estimated
to be worth 30 million pounds ($49 million), the evening sale
fetched 177 million pounds, comfortably beating the pre-sale
estimate of 113 million to 163 million pounds.
The top price was paid for a 1915 painting by Juan Gris, "Nature
morte ŕ la nappe ŕ carreaux", which fetched 35 million pounds,
setting a new world record price for the artist and for any
The large-scale painting was being offered at auction for the
first time and came from the collection of a Swiss, who were
close to many of the artists whose work they bought, Christie's
Picasso's "Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil", depicting
the woman the artist would marry six years later and one of his
most important muses, was the second most expensive painting,
snapped up for 17 million pounds.
A total of 35 works of art sold for over 1 million pounds, and
three other artists set records for their work, Christie's said.
"DEPTH OF BIDDING"
"We are thrilled with tonight's results, which represent the
highest total for a sale held in London in any category," said
Jay Vincze, head of the impressionist and modern art department
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"The energy of the sale and the depth of bidding was
exceptional, particularly on the top lots."
The Swiss collection, which also featured the third most expensive
piece of the night, Piet Mondrian's "Composition No. 2 with Blue and
Yellow", was sold for 57 million pounds, almost doubling the high
end of its pre-sale estimate.
Christie's drew attention to the booming art market
in November last year when it sold Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of
Lucian Freud" for $142.4 million, making it the most expensive work
of art ever sold at auction.
Other notable pieces at Tuesday's sale were Magritte's "Les
chasseurs au bord de la nuit (The hunters at the edge of night)"
which sold for 6.5 million pounds, and Monet's "Eglise de
Varengeville, soleil couchant" which went to a private Asian buyer
for 5.7 million pounds.
Only 11 of the 76 works offered failed to sell.
The London-based auction house smashed previous records in 2013 when
it reported sales of $7.13 billion for the year thanks to an
increasing pool of super-wealthy collectors and rising Asian demand.
The impressionist and modern sales continue on Wednesday with
Christie's day sale and rival auction house Sotheby's sale of
modern, impressionist and surrealist art in the evening.
(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by
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