SOTHEBY’S staged a white-glove sale in London last week as 50 works from the collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough all found buyers.
The Attenborough sale demonstrated that, despite the downturn
seen across the market, demand for the best quality Modern British
art remains solid. This was particularly the case here as all the
works came fresh to the market and had the added bonus of being
sold by one of the country's best-loved actors and film
The saleroom was packed. Private bidding mixed with keen trade
interest, ensuring that the majority of the 50 lots went over their
The hammer total was £3.8m, above the £1.89m-2.86m pre-sale
estimate and the highest sum ever for a single-owner sale of Modern
British art at Sotheby's.
The best-performing works in the sell-out auction were by the
artists whom Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila knew
personally. The top lot was by L.S. Lowry (1887-1976), whose
Old Houses from 1948 drew three bidders in the room,
including a London dealer, who were all prepared to go above the
£300,000-500,000 estimate. It was finally knocked down to a private
collector at £750,000.
More impressive was the record £400,000 for Graham Sutherland's
(1903-1980) Thorn Head from 1947, which saw four bidders
compete for it against a £150,000-250,000 estimate. It sold to the
London dealers Daniel Katz Ltd.
Another record was the £260,000 for Keith Vaughan's (1912-1977)
monumental Theseus and the Minotaure (Interior at Minos),
which sold to a private collector.
Records were also set for both a painting and print by C.R.W.
Nevinson (1889-1946) - the former when The Battlefields of
Britain made £180,000 and the latter when French Troops
Resting sold for £65,000.
By Alex Capon