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The £16m paid by an anonymous telephone bidder for Edgar Degas’ c.1879 pastel Danseuse au Repos at Sotheby’s on the evening of June 28 was a world record for any work on paper and the premium-inclusive total of £49.8m was the highest achieved for a various owner sale in London.

An unprecedented four bidders were in the running for the Degas at £10m, double the lower estimate.

There was also intense competition at Sotheby’s for Henri Matisse’s 1940 oil Robe Jaune et Robe Arlequin (Nezy et Lydia) which was knocked down to a highly determined American private bidder in the room for £6.5m against an estimate of £2-3m.

Christie’s £16.8m Impressionist & 19th Century Art sale the following evening lacked Sotheby’s highlights, but 81 per cent of the material still found buyers, six of whom were UK collectors.

Rather more powerful evidence of the strengthened demand for Impressionist and Modern in London was to be found at Christie’s sale of works by Julio González and other artists from the Fondation Hartung on the afternoon of June 30.

This proved to be a total sell-out with a 106 lots generating £9.2m, led by the record £1.85m given for González’s unique c.1931 welded iron Tête de femme II, estimated at £180,000-220,000.

With queues at the door for some sales and a premium-inclusive total of more than £120m for Impressionist and Modern art in London, the summer of ’99 is proving something of a vintage season for the London art world.