ShareThis Page

Russian collectors help propel Sotheby's 'great stride' into 2014

| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 6:15 p.m.
Sotheby's employees hold up Camille Pissarro's 'Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinee de printemps' (1897) during the Sotheby's Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art auctions press preview  in London on January 29, 2014. The art work is expected to fetch between 7 - 10 million pounds. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIEANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
Sotheby's employees hold up Camille Pissarro's 'Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinee de printemps' (1897) during the Sotheby's Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art auctions press preview in London on January 29, 2014. The art work is expected to fetch between 7 - 10 million pounds. AFP PHOTO/ANDREW COWIEANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images

LONDON — Works by Picasso and Van Gogh helped the London arm of Sotheby's hit its highest-ever sales figure for a single auction, coming close to the overall London record set by rival Christie's a day earlier, as art sales boomed in the British capital.

The Sotheby's sale late on Wednesday totaled $266 million, and the auctioneer said on Thursday demand had come from emerging markets such as Russia and longer-established markets in Europe and America.

“Our auctioneer, Henry Wyndham, was fielding bids from as many as five determined bidders on nearly every lot, coming from Russia, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America as well as the U.S. and Europe,” said Helena Newman, the co-head of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department worldwide.

“It certainly feels like a great stride into the first of the 2014 sale seasons.”

The previous day, a Christie's sale fetched $289 million, a record for any sale held in London by an auction house, even though the auctioneer had to withdraw a batch of works by Joan Miro at the last minute.

Highlights of the Sotheby's sale included “Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinee de printemps,” a Parisian street scene by impressionist Camille Pissarro, that went for $32.6 million to an anonymous buyer, and “L'Homme est en mer,” by Vincent Van Gogh, which fetched almost $28 million.

The sale included part of the private collection of Holocaust survivor and four-time concentration camp escapee Jan Krugier. The 37 items, including works by Pablo Picasso and Pierre Bonnard, fetched $86.5 million.

The auction drew bidders from 44 countries, more than Sotheby's, founded in 1744, ever entertained for a sale in London in the same category.

“We have seen an explosion in the globalization of our buyers,” Newman said, adding that new buyers from Russia were successful in bagging some of the top lots.

Prices for the most-sought-after art works have soared in recent years, driven by an swiftly expanding class of super-rich collectors in emerging markets and financiers flush with cash from the extra liquidity pumped into markets by central banks.

Investors say emerging-market billionaires have poured money into the top end of the art market because they see it as a safer investment than volatile currencies and unstable economies.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.