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Locally-based sculptor César proved more in tune with the saleroom mood. All four of his works sold, notably his 5ft 11in (1.8m) evocation of Napoléon (1986-88), a typically quirky creation in welded bronze, cast by Bocquel (number 4 of 8), and bought on the phone for €62,000 (£41,330). César's one-off 1958 welded iron Sculpture Plate, 3ft 3in x 2ft 1in (1m x 64cm), followed on at €55,000 (£36,670).

Three works by Arman, however, all expected to sell in the €20,000-30,000 range, failed to sell.

A painted resin snake chair or Chaise Serpent (1994) by Niki de Saint-Phalle, 5ft 11in (1.8m) tall, provoked a lengthy phone battle despite being one of 20 produced (this was number 7), racing to €51,000 (£34,000). François Tajan believes the success of Sotheby's Nahon sale in nearby Vence a fortnight earlier, when Saint-Phalle made an auction record and French bidders were notably active, augured well for the often criticised Contemporary art market in France.

Two almost identical gilded bronze Seated Monkeys (c.1992) by François-Xavier Lalanne, 2ft 6in (76cm) high, also cleared estimate, each selling to the same telephone bidder for €14,000 (£9330) apiece.

Max Ernst's silver figures Monsieur et Madame New Look, respectively 10in (25cm) and 7in (17cm) tall, designed in 1961 but here in versions (numbered 6/8) produced in 1988, also sold on the phone for a mid-estimate €26,000 (£17,330).

Two of the sale's leading bronze sculptures failed to sell: Dali's 8ft (2.44m) tall Vénus à la Girafe (1973), estimated at €100,000-120,000; and a bulky abstract bronze Fleur Dynamique by Augustin Cardenas, estimated at €60,000-80,000, despite being prominently displayed in the foyer of the Café de Paris.

Exchange rate: £1 = €1.5