UPDATE 1-Rival auction houses aim for new heights in London

* Monet takes Christie’s London target to 164-231 mln pounds

* Rival Sotheby’s also eyes biggest London auction

* Owners willing to part with top works as records tumble

(releads, adds Sotheby’s sale details)

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON, June 3 (BestGrowthStock) – Rivals Christie’s and Sotheby’s
are expecting to hold their biggest ever London sales later this
month, reflecting growing confidence in the art market boom.

Christie’s announced on Thursday it was offering a 1906
Monet water-lily painting worth an estimated 30 to 40 million
pounds ($44-59 million), the same price as a Blue Period
portrait by Pablo Picasso.

The pair, plus 61 other works on offer, are expected to take
the tally on June 23 to 164-231 million pounds, which, if
realised, would be well above the London record of 147 million
pounds set at Sotheby’s (BID.N: ) in February.

“We are witnessing a great willingness from clients to
consign works of art of the highest quality,” said Giovanna
Bertazzoni, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie’s.

Sotheby’s said it expected to sell art worth 101-148 million
pounds at its equivalent sale on June 22, its highest pre-sale
estimate in London.

Its auction centrepiece is a painting by Edouard Manet
valued at 20-30 million pounds, one of just two self-portraits
by the artist and the only one in private hands.


Both of the world’s leading auctioneers have set records in
recent months, starting with Sotheby’s in February when a
Giacometti statue went under the hammer for $104.3 million, the
world auction record for a work of art.

Three months later, Christie’s topped that with a Picasso
which fetched $106.5 million in New York.

The top European auction total stands at 183 million pounds
for the impressionist and modern art section of the private Yves
Saint Laurent collection.

With records tumbling, it comes as little surprise that
owners of the finest art are willing to offer it up for sale.

Uncertainty over the state of the broader global economy has
failed to dampen the mood in sales rooms, experts say, with only
a handful of super-wealthy individuals or institutions needed to
drive values higher.

A relatively short-lived slump in the art market was caused
as much by sellers drying up as by buyers no longer wanting to
pay out large sums for paintings and sculptures.

Christie’s described demand for the rarest works of art as
“fierce”, coming from Russia, China and the Middle East as well
as the more traditional markets of Europe and North America.

“Nympheas”, the work by Monet to be offered by Christie’s,
was shown at the famous 1909 exhibition in Paris where the
artist’s studies of the effects of light in his garden in
Giverny won critical acclaim.

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UPDATE 1-Rival auction houses aim for new heights in London