Expectations high for record spending at New York art auctions

Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:29am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The gavel will not come down on the first lot of New York's major fall auctions until Tuesday, but records have already fallen and more are virtually certain once the bidding actually begins.

With a global pool of collectors competing for more than $1.5 billion worth of fine art, the city's top auction houses are expecting record values for trophy works at sales over the next two weeks.

Sotheby's has the season's top lot, Alberto Giacometti's "Chariot," a 1951 bronze sculpture, which could set a record for the artist.

"Given the $104.3 million achieved at Sotheby’s by

Giacometti’s 'Homme qui marche I in 2010,' we believe that 'Chariot' could sell for in excess of $100 million," said Simon Shaw, Sotheby's co-head of Impressionist and modern art.

Christie's estimates its postwar and contemporary art auction will total more than $600 million, the highest pre-sale estimate ever for any single sale.

Christie's achieved the best total in the history of auctions in May when it sold $745 million worth of art at its postwar and contemporary sale.

Nine lots in Christie's carry estimates of about $25 million or more, with at least three likely to fetch more than $50 million each.   Continued...

General view of the Sotheby's building in New York, February 14, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz