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Art auction rakes in $181.7 million

November 05, 2009|Reuters

If there is distress in the art market, it was not on view Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York as the auction house sold more than $180 million worth of Impressionist and Modern art at a sale exceeding even the most optimistic expectations.

A night after a smaller sale at rival Christie's fell short, Sotheby's saw 85% of the 66 works on offer find buyers and took in $181,760,000 including commissions, some 10% above the high presale estimate.

Officials said it was the first time since May 2006, in the midst of an unprecedented art market boom, that one of its Impressionist sales exceeded the high estimate.

The top lot was Giacometti's "L'homme qui Chavire," a 1951 bronze that soared to $19.3 million, or more than half-again its high estimate, after a protracted bidding war among six would-be buyers.

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