SIGNS of recovery at the top end of the art market were seen again as greater levels of international bidding emerged at the latest contemporary art auction series in London.
Following the lucrative Impressionist and Modern art series in
the capital the week before, last week's contemporary sales at
Sotheby's and Christie's performed well in light of the severe
downturn that has hit this sector of the market over the last 15
The results were a significant improvement on the equivalent
series last year as well as the more recent contemporary art sales
in both June and October last year.
Sotheby's 77-lot sale on February 10 made a hammer total of
£46.6m, above the £32.3-45.2m presale estimate and up on the £15.4m
from 27 lots last February.
Christie's £33.7m total for their 51-lot evening sale the day
after was also well above the modest £7.05m from their 29-lot
equivalent sale last year.
Christie's saw the highest price of the week when Yves Klein's
(1928-1962) Relief Eponge from 1961 sold at £5.2m against
a £5m-7m estimate. It was bought by the same European private buyer
who purchased Klein's F88 from the same year for £2.9m at
Sotheby's the day before.
One of the underbidders at Christie's was the jewellery dealer
Laurence Graff. He was successful with Klein's ANT 5 from
1962, knocked down at £3.65m, also at Christie's.
Estimated at £1.5m-2m, the amorphic blue-pigment nude drew a
strong contest between four interested parties, including an
American underbidder, and made a substantial rise on the £350,000
it made when it last sold at Sotheby's in June 2001.
By Alex Capon