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Christie’s total was down 18 per cent on 2006 (boosted by the epic €60m Dray Art Deco sale), while ArtCurial’s sales of €52m (£35m) represented a rise of six per cent, thanks mainly to a 38 per cent climb in totals for contemporary art to €14.8m.

The overall volume take-up was 82 per cent at Christie’s and 70 per cent at ArtCurial.

A successful €8m foray to Monaco at the end of July enabled Tajan to stay third with sales of €41m (£27.5m), although Sotheby’s, after several years in the Paris doldrums, closed the gap with sales of €38.3m (£25.7m), an increase of nearly 20 per cent.

The largest rise was at Piasa, where sales soared 38 per cent to €24.6m (£16.5m), thanks to the consignor-friendly innovations of Jacques Babonneau, installed by François Pinault as head of the firm for his financial wizardry.

Piasa duly led the Drouot-based firms ahead of Millon & Associés on €19m (£12.8m), Aguttes on €15.6m (£10.5m), Cornette de St-Cyr on €12.1m (£8.1m), and Beaussant-Lefèvre on €11.6m (£7.8m).

Overall sales from Drouot’s 74 firms totalled €250m (£168m), with just five individual prices of over €1m – compared to ten at Christie’s alone.

Highest price at Drouot was the €1.9m for Etienne Dinet’s Orientalist Vue Aérienne de la Palmeraie. At Christie’s the top lot was the €6.9m for Francis Bacon’s Untitled (Figure on a Dais) – the highest price at auction in France this year.

Meanwhile Pierre Bergé & Associés recorded sales of €8.9m (£6m) in Paris and €13.1m (£8.8m) in Brussels, confirming their position as leaders of the Belgian auction market.

• All figures include buyer’s premium.

By Simon Hewitt