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The week saw a number of major-name works fetch multimillion pound prices, led by the £16.5m paid by an anonymous telephone bidder for Cezanne’s recently-recovered Bouilloire et Fruits at Sotheby’s on December 7. Sotheby’s also achieved a record £4.8m for Van Gogh’s 1889 drawing Oliviers avec les Alpilles au Fond – bought as a private bequest to New York’s Museum of Modern Art – and a further £9.8m for the 25 separately catalogued works by Picasso from the Versace Collection, estimated at £8m.

Van Gogh also starred at Christie’s on December 8 when a collector paid a double-estimate £2.7m for the 1886 canvas A Pair of Shoes. Christie’s abandoned their experiment of selling 19th and 20th century art on separate evenings, reverting to a more concentrated two-part sale divided into separately-catalogued Impressionist & Post Impressionist and 20th Century sections. Surrealism attracted particularly strong demand with record prices paid for Paul Delvaux’s Le Miroir (£2.9m) and Yves Tanguy’s Un grand Tableau qui represente un Paysage (£1.4m).

Phillips also had their moment when a sextuple-estimate £300,000 was paid for a Théo van Rysselberghe Coastal Scene at their December 7 sale of 20th Century Continental Art.