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Auctions expect heated bidding

November 02, 2004|From Reuters

More than half a billion dollars' worth of paintings and sculptures, led by a $40-million Gauguin, will be up for bids in Sotheby's and Christie's annual fall sales starting Wednesday as owners try to capitalize on a bullish art market.

A $25-million Modigliani and $15 million-canvases by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol will also hit the block during the two-week auctions in New York.

Sotheby's expects to sell $300 million to $400 million worth of fine art, while Christie's forecasts sales at $200 million to $250 million.

Paul Gauguin's 1899 portrait of a young Polynesian girl, "Maternite (II)," carries the top price of $40 million to $50 million at Sotheby's, which is also offering Amedeo Modigliani's "Jeanne Hebuterne (Devant une Porte)," an elongated portrait estimated at $20 million to $30 million.

"People with good works of art certainly do see this as an especially good time to sell because prices are 50% higher than they were two or three years ago," said Christie's Inc. Chairman Marc Porter.

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