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Works by Cy Twombly, Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon led the sale which generated a premium-inclusive total of £117.1m with an impressive 57 of the 62 lots finding buyers (92%).

Top lot was Untitled (New York City) by Cy Twombly (1928-2011), an example of his 'blackboard'  paintings which are the most commercial works in the artist's oeuvre. The 4ft 9in x 5ft 10in (1.45 x 1.78m) oil paint and wax crayon on canvas was executed in 1970 and had been purchased by the vendor at Sotheby's New York in May 2012 for a premium-inclusive $17.4m.

A slightly larger work from the same series, but with significantly larger loops, sold at Christie's New York in November for $62m (£40.5m) and smashed the artist's record.

The work here in London was guaranteed by the auctioneers and the estimate was 'in the region of £16m'. It came down to a battle between two telephone bidders with the hammer falling at £17.5m to an Asian buyer.

Richter's Lake

Drawing even stronger competition, three phone bidders pursued Gerhard Richter's (b.1932) photorealist painting Vierwaldstätter See (Lake Lucerne). The 3ft 11in x 4ft 11in (1.2 x 1.5m) oil on canvas was the largest of a distinct series of four views of the famous Swiss lake painted by the artist in 1969.

Estimated 'in the region of £10m', it sold at £14m to an anonymous buyer bidding through Francis Outred, Christie's head of post-war & Contemporary art Europe. Mr Outred said after the sale that he regarded these photorealist works as undervalued.

Bacon's Pope

The sale also offered a Francis Bacon (1909-1992) Pope portrait which had never been at auction before. It had changed hands a number of times privately since it was painted in 1955 and was acquired by the vendor here in 2005.

Study for a Head, a 3ft 6in x 2ft 6in (1.02 x 77cm) oil on canvas, was estimated 'in the region of £9m' but it was slightly unusual in terms of its mid-size format. It also showed the subject, Pope Pius XII, standing composed on a plain background whereas Bacon's Popes are often painted agonising or screaming against a red or scarlet background.

As such, it was less valuable than Study for Innocent X from 1962 which made $47m (£23.5m) at Sotheby's New York in May 2007 or another 1954 painting of Innocent X screaming which fetched $26.5m (£17.3m) at the same venue in November 2012.

At the current Christie's sale, two bidders were prepared to compete for the picture and it was knocked down at £8.9m to a phone buyer.