THOUGH it might no longer be the place where an international vendor would choose to sell a £20m Picasso or Van Gogh, London last week enhanced its reputation as a revenue for selling major-name Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art with a string of major results at Sotheby’s and Christie’s evening sales.


Sotheby’s had the slight edge this time round in terms of pure turnover, aggregating a premium-inclusive £55.2m from their Part I outings versus £50.5m at Christie’s, who did at least achieve the highest price of the week with the £11m paid by the Acquavella Galleries of New York for Paul Cezanne’s Nature morte aux fruits et pot de gingembre.

The Cezanne sold within estimate, as did Monet’s £10m La Plage à Trouville at Sotheby’s and most of the high profile Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works on offer.

The less expensive Moderns and Contemporaries tended to generate more intensive bidding battles with Francis Bacon’s 1952 Study for a Portrait (Man Screaming) doubling its lower estimate to take £2.7m at Christie’s and Willem de Kooning’s 1982 Untitled XVIII taking £1.15m (estimate £400,000-600,000) at Sotheby’s highly successful £9.4m Contemporary Part I sale.