LONDON—Sotheby’s recorded its highest-ever total for an Impressionist and modern art sale in London on June 19, when its Part One sale realized £88.8 million, or $163.7 million. (The previous high was achieved in April 1989, when Sotheby’s sold works from the British Rail Pension Fund for £68.8 million.) Christie’s followed Sotheby’s example on June 20 by achieving its highest-selling total to date for a London sale of Impressionist and modern art. The difference was that it offered more lots (90) but raised slightly less, taking £86.98 million ($160.3 million), compared with £31.6 million ($57.5 million) last year.
The £175.7 million ($324 million) total for both houses was more than twice the combined £77.4 million reached in 2005 and also well beyond the £90.5 million sum achieved in 2004. “The London market is as strong as it has ever been,” said Melanie Clore, Sotheby’s cochairman worldwide, Impressionist and modern art. “Bidding was from every corner of the world, with new buyers vying vigorously with long-standing clients.”
In the contemporary sector, the two Part One sales grossed £55.96 million ($103.53 million), flying above the £43.75 million ($79.6 million) total achieved last year (ANL, 7/05/05).