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Provisional figures suggest that overall auction sales in Paris dipped around 10 per cent to €615m (£394m), starkly reflecting the morose economic climate. Despite the arrival of Sotheby’s and Christie’s, several traditional French firms retained a major share of the market – led by Tajan, who comfortably retained top spot with sales of €69.5m (£44.5m), although that figure was well down on the Fr626m (£59m) the firm posted in 2001.

Next came the new ArtCurial auction house on the Champs-Elysées, formed by the merger of Briest and Poulain-Le Fur, which posted sales of €60.3m (£38.7m). Christie’s ranked third with sales of €57.1m (£36.6m) from 31 auctions, although that figure climbs to €64.7m (£41.5m) if the Giacometti sale which Christie’s organised and promoted (but which was relocated to the Hôtel Drouot at the last minute by court order) is included.

Sotheby’s followed with sales of €49m (£31.4m), although these were achieved from just 17 sales, compared to 31 at Christie’s and 101 at Tajan. Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s, unlike their French-based rivals, also exported many items from France for sale in New York, London and Geneva.

Drouot-based Piasa reported an auction turnover of €49m (£31.4m) and were the leading contributor to sales at the Hôtel Drouot, which totalled €376m (£241m) and included the year’s top hammer price in Paris: €4.1m (£2.62m) for Sonia Delaunay’s Le Marché au Minho at Calmels-Cohen in June.
• Turnover figures include