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The buyers at these sales are an unbeatably decorative crowd, but in terms of its content this annual
procession of six-figure Marinis, Morandis and Manzonis can at times seem as uninspiringly predictable as a production line of Ferraris. Just to prove the point, Sotheby’s and Christie’s both featured a
£1.8m-estimated Marno Marini bronze Cavaliere on the front of this October’s catalogues. However, Christie’s (19.5/12% buyer’s premium) October 21 sale did create at least one truly sensational price when an amazing double-estimate £1.4m was bid by Molly Brocklehurst of the Gagosian Gallery for this 1965 wood and scrap metal construction, above right, Cannone semovente (Mobile Cannon) by the short-lived Arte Povera artist Pino Pascali (1935-1968). This surpassed the record £480,000 achieved just a few minutes earlier for another, hardly less sinister, Pascali sculpture – the 1996 four-piece canvas and shaped plywood Quattro trofei di caccia (Four Hunting Trophies), estimated at £350,000-550,000.

Quite apart from the fact that Pascali is a rare artist, and that Arte Povera is an area of the Post-War and Contemporary market where prices are on the move, both pieces benefited from being provenanced to the collection of Dakis Joannou, who is Greece’s answer to Charles Saatchi.

Helped by these prices, Christie’s £6.87m total was the highest they yet achieved at their four Italian sales, but the take-up was much more selective and 47 of the 124 lots were unsold.