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French constitution will water down Unidroit

12 February 2002

France has taken the first step towards adopting Unidroit, which enforces strict controls on the restitution of stolen art. On January 29 a first reading of the bill ratifying the convention was adopted by the Assemblée Nationale (lower-house).

International photo fans hail a Scouse Giza

07 February 2002

FRANCE: FRANCIS FRITH (1822-98) was the focus of attention of Beaussant-Lefèvre’s sale of 19th century photographs at Drouot on January 25, as expert Pierre-Marc Richard claimed a world record auction price of €23,000 (£14,400), almost double-estimate, for a Francis Frith photograph: an 1858 view of The Pyramids of El-Geezeh from the south-west (pictured).

Francly, my dear, we don’t give a damn!

07 February 2002

French take the Euro in their stride. Will the Brits be left behind? The euro, all Fr6.56 of it, appears to be making a smooth entry into French salerooms.

Horse and boy image that changes history of photography

23 January 2002

SOTHEBY’S have given the autograph documentation and picture, right, a hefty estimate of €500,000-750,000 for a very good reason: the picture is now thought to be the earliest image made by photographic means.

£7m sales round off a bonne année

23 January 2002

PARIS: A prestige series of auctions held by Tajan at the Hôtel George V just before Christmas (December 17-19) yielded just under £7m hammer.

Magic fountains, Picasso’s pottery and wetting the Dauphin’s head – Sèvres-style

23 January 2002

FRANCE: A gilded and bleu céleste Louis XVI Sèvres cup and saucer, right, 51/2in (14cm) tall and known as the Gobelet Dauphin, sold over estimate for Fr260,000 (£24,800) at Piasa in Paris on December 7.

Chaumet’s three steps to heavenly victory

23 January 2002

PARIS: This extraordinary 2ft 3in (69cm) showpiece entitled Christus Vincit, made by Joseph Chaumet for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, sold for Fr2.8m (£267,000) at Calmels-Chambre-Cohen on December 10.

Music scores with the museums, but Dreyfus and Zola hit the high notes

23 January 2002

PARIS: The Piasa letters and manuscripts sale on December 17 brought Fr7.25m (£690,000) hammer with just 1 per cent bought in, and no fewer than 18 pre-emptions for the Bibliothèque Nationale, Comédie Française, Assemblée Nationale, Musée Victor-Hugo, and the towns of Avignon, Grenoble and Besançon.

Two takeover bids launched for the Drouot

21 January 2002

FRANCE: Just weeks after Sotheby’s and Christie’s first sales in Paris, the Hôtel Drouot is the target of two takeover bids, from Barclays Private Equity, an investment fund, and Pierre Bergé, longtime president of the Yves St-Laurent fashion house and a former chairman of the Paris Opera.

Old Masters

16 January 2002

The Tower of Babel was a popular subject with Flemish artists, and with the Louvain-born Lucas van Valkenborch (c.1530-97) in particular. He painted at least four versions, to be found in Munich, Mainz, the Louvre, and in the Beaussant-Lefèvre saleroom at Drouot on December 14, when an oil on panel Tower dated 1587, 28 x 35in (71 x 90cm), spiralled six times over estimate to Fr8.2m (£781,000), establishing an auction record for the artist.

Artcurial Briest sale

16 January 2002

PARIS: American buyers were to the forefront at the ArtCurial-Briest sales on December 17 and 18, held in the stylish Hôtel Dassault halfway down the Champs-Elysées, and preceded by an elegantly hung four-day viewing.

Photographs

16 January 2002

PARIS: An ensemble of nine photographs by Gustave Le Gray, all albumen paper prints from collodion or paper negatives from the collection of chemist Paul-Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran (who discovered the metal gallium), surfaced at Millon & Associés on December 3.

Paris sales still on an upward trend

07 January 2002

FRANCE: Paris auction house Drouot reported a slight rise of 0.66 per cent in 2001 turnover to Fr4.11bn (£391m). Art sales rose five per cent to Fr3.47bn (£330m).

Curiel moves on to bigger role after ‘troubleshooting’ stint

07 January 2002

Less than a month after Christie’s first sales in Paris, Dominique-Henri Freiche, a director of Groupe Pinault, has replaced François Curiel as President of Christie’s France.

Facelift for Paris Biennale

12 December 2001

Radical changes are planned for next year’s 13th staging of one of the world’s top fairs, the Biennale des Antiquaires at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.

Christie’s take their Parisian turn

12 December 2001

Less than a week after Sotheby’s became the first foreign auctioneers to sell in France, Christie’s brought down the hammer on their inaugural French sale – the first session of the Charles-Otto Zieseniss collection.

Sotheby’s make history as they launch France’s open market

30 November 2001

Basic buyer’s premium almost doubles: On the rainswept evening of November 29 in Paris, as the tricolor fluttered proudly over the Elysée Palace and Christmas lights twinkled on the Champs-Elysées, history was made as Sotheby’s became the first foreign auctioneers ever to sell in France – exploding a monopoly dating back to 1556.

Goodwill from M. Bonhomme

01 November 2001

The comprehensive collection of French royal issues formed by Michel Bonhomme was dispersed in Paris at Christian Delorme et Vincent Fraysse (expert: Alain Weil) on October 9-10. The period covered was from Charles V (1364-80) until the fall of the French monarchy in 1792.

New Asian fair for Paris

01 November 2001

FRANCE: There were some prestigious names among the 24 exhibitors at the first Salon International d’Art Asiatique, held at the Hôtel Dassault on the Champs-Elysées from October 5-8.

Paris auctions open up at last

30 October 2001

FRANCE: After a long and frustrating delay, Sotheby’s and Christie’s finally got the official go-ahead late last week to conduct auctions in France. They were among the first four auction houses to receive a licence from the French Conseil des Ventes on October 25 and both houses swiftly announced details of their inaugural sales to be held later this year.