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Walther died in 1981 and in 2008 his widow donated the greater part of the collection to museums and sold other works of art via galleries or auctions, while retaining many of her favourite pieces.

Helga died in 2015 and this year her executors decided to auction the remaining artworks on June 16 at Van Ham (25/21% buyer’s premium) in Cologne. The sale was a great success, with all 72 lots finding buyers.

A considerable part of the final sum was achieved for one single lot: a rare complete set of Andy Warhol’s (1928-87) Flowers. The artist based his image on a photo by Patricia Caulfield that appeared in the June 1964 issue of the magazine Popular Photography, which he adapted and recoloured in characteristic fashion.

This 10-part series of 3ft x 3ft (92 x 92cm) colour silkscreen prints was published by Factory Additions in New York in 1970 in an edition of 250. The example in the Lauffs Collection was number 57 and had an estimate of €800,000-1m. The two main contenders, both German collectors on the phone, went way past the guide and one of them withdrew only when the price had reached a substantial €1.7m (£1.47m).

Delorme record

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Raphael Delorme’s 'Nude Woman in the Machine-Room' made a record price of €100,000 (£86,205) at Karl & Faber.

The Swiss collector who consigned a 19in x 2ft (50 x 61cm) painting, Nude Woman in the Machine-Room, to Karl & Faber (25% buyer’s premium) in Munich for the sale of July 14-15 will have been pleasantly surprised by the result.

It was painted in 1927 by Raphael Delorme (1885-1962), a member of the Bordeaux School, and was the artist’s comment on the dominance of industry over humanity, as expressed by the bonds tying the young woman to the machine.

It was expected to bring €12,000- 15,000, but bidders from many quarters went as far as €100,000 (£86,205), an auction record for the artist. It is now part of an American collection.

Collector takes four of five

One of the attractions at Koller’s (25/22/15% buyer’s premium) July 2 sale in Zurich was a group of five paintings by the Ukrainian Post-impressionist artist Abraham Manievich (1881-1942) which had been in a Swiss collection since 1937.

They were all painted c.1910 and were exhibited in Paris in 1913, soon after the artist, whose works were greatly influenced by Cézanne’s later paintings, had moved to the French capital.

Considerable interest came from home and abroad and a determined international collector had his work cut out to secure four of the five paintings.

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Paintings by Abraham Manievich were in great demand at Koller – 'Neige dans la forêt' sold for SFr250,000 (£198,410).

First up was Neige dans la forêt, which was the largest canvas by Manievich ever sold at auction, measuring 4ft 5in x 4ft 4in (1.35 ×1.32m). It was knocked down for SFr250,000 (£198,410), more than six times the guide.

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Paintings by Abraham Manievich were in great demand at Koller – 'Vers le Printemps' changed hands for SFr90,000 (£71,430).

A spring landscape, Vers le Printemps, was just over half the size of the previous painting and was driven from SFr25,000 to SFr90,000 (£71,430), while Paysage lyrique brought SFr130,000 (£103,175), going way over the estimate, as did Ruines Romaines, which was knocked down for SFr75,000 (£59,525).

The collector did not, however, buy the last work on offer, a view of Venice, which went to a Swiss buyer for SFr22,000 (£17,460).