Monet disappoints, but Christie's sale holds up

Thu Feb 5, 2009 8:23am EST
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The star lot at Christie's auction of impressionist and modern art late on Wednesday failed to shine, but the sale overall came within the estimated range and raised over 63 million pounds ($91 million).

Claude Monet's "Dans la Prairie," painted in 1876, had been expected to fetch around 15 million pounds excluding premium, but went under the hammer in London for 11.2 million pounds including the buyer's premium.

Despite some disappointments, however, the sale is likely to come as a relief to Christie's, as the severity of the general economic crisis has yet to hit the high-end art market.

"This evening's results demonstrate the strength of this long established category of art," said Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie's in London.

Among the highlights was "Les Deux Filles," a double portrait by Amedeo Modigliani which was offered at auction for the first time having been acquired directly from the artist through his dealer over 90 years ago.

It sold for 6.5 million pounds versus an estimate of 3.5 to 5.5 million.

And "L'Abandon (Les Deux Amies)" (1895) by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec fetched 6.2 million pounds, within expectations.

Overall, the auction had been forecast to raise between 60 and 87 million pounds.

(Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>"Dans la Prairie," by Claude Monet is seen in this handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>