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    Three hundred and  seventy million. That is the total spent at art sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in London in June.

    The Christie’s Impressionist and Modern sale brought in 153 million on June 23. This is the highest total ever achieved at an art auction in London. It happened even though a Monet water-lily painting worth an estimated 30-40 million pounds failed to sell. Bidding on it reached 29 million pounds. Sotheby’s revised their figures upwards for the two-day sales series of Impressionist & Modern Art to 131 million pounds.

    The top lot at Christie’s was a Blue Period portrait by Picasso, which made 34.8 million pounds. European buyers accounted for 55 per cent of lots sold, 40 per cent of buyers were from the Americas and five per cent from Asia.

    Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in London on June 28 realised the solid total of £41,091,800 / €50,111,626, within pre-sale expectations of £38.3–52.8 million. It was the third highest total for a summer sale of Contemporary art at Sotheby’s London and a 60% increase on the equivalent sale last year. Nine works sold for over £1 million and 16 works for over $1 million.

    The top lot was Yves Klein’s RE 49, Relief Eponge Bleu. It made £6.2 million. Frank Auerbach’s Mornington Crescent – Summer Morning made £2.3 million and Bharti Kher’s sculpture The Skin Speaks a Language not its Own sold for £993,250, a new auction record for the artist by many multiples and a new record for any work by a contemporary female Indian artist at auction.

    The Post-War and Contemporary Evening Auction at Christie’s on June 30 made a total of £45,640,200, selling 84% by lot and 85% by value.  The top price was paid for Silver Liz, 1963, by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), one of only two paintings of actress Elizabeth Taylor  by the artist.  It sold to an anonymous bidder for £6,762,150. A total of  58% of buyers were from Europe, 30% from the Americas with four per cent from Asia.

    What has become clear in this series of sales is that auction houses must get estimates right.  If the estimate is too high the work will not sell.


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