Saturday - 01 November 2014

French auction results show Contemporary art at the forefront

05 August 2013Written by Anne Crane

Several of the main French auction firms and French branches of international houses have produced their half-year sales figures.

Many show sizeable increases over the equivalent period last year, with Modern and Contemporary art much to the fore for the biggest earners.

Sotheby's produced their highest ever total since first opening an auction house in France, chalking up a premium-inclusive figure of €106m for the period up to June 27 compared with €91.4m for the same period last year.

They saw 14 lots make over €1m with premium included. In a list led by Jean Michel Basquiat's Crown Hotel painting on paper of 1982 which made €5.7m (£5.09m) in their June 5 Contemporary art sale, 10 of the 14 were for Modern or Contemporary art.

Christie's recorded a premium-inclusive figure of €92m up to mid July, which while behind Sotheby's, represented a 33% jump over the €69m sold in the first half of 2012. Here 12 lots topped the €1m mark, again weighted towards Modern art, led by Francis Bacon's oil on canvas Painting March 1985 which fetched €3.68m (£3.29m) on June 6.

Christie's sales were almost neck and neck with those of Artcurial who raised a premium-inclusive €91.6m for their first half figures, a 25% increase on last year's equivalent. This was without factoring in the results of their July series in Monaco which took the firm over the €100m mark. Contemporary art was again to the fore, producing €17m, a massive 70% hike over the €10m for the same period in 2012. 

Drouot Results

The Drouot auction centre, which is home to a co-operative of Paris auctioneers, reported half-year premium-inclusive sales figures of €237m (excluding after sales).

Eight individual lots topped the €1m mark. This was a varied mix of Asian, Old Masters, Modern art, furnishings and antiquities, as one might expect from such a broad pool of firms offering material ranging from general to specialist auctions.

The list was led by the rare ink on silk painting thought to date from the Tang Dynasty which fetched €4.65m (£4.15m) at Thierry de Maigret on June 19.

Other individual firms who released figures included Piasa who sold a premium-inclusive €19m, a 22% rise on the €15.5m from the first half of 2012 helped by the €4m sales recorded in their new Left Bank saleroom Piasa Rive Gauche, devoted to 20th century design and decorative art.

Beaussant Lefevre recorded a premium-inclusive €12m worth of sales, slightly down on the €13.2m seen for the first half of 2012; Millon €21m, a premium-inclusive figure which includes their Brussels and Geneva sales as well at their Paris auctions, while Aguttes realised premium inclusive sales of €15.5m from the 103 auctions held between their rooms at Neuilly and Lyon and at Drouot.

All totals and prices are premium inclusive. 

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

Back to top