Works by Lichtenstein, Degas lead NY art auctions

Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:01am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With financial markets remaining stubbornly shaky, auction houses in New York are gearing up for critical fall auctions which feature several works each poised to fetch $30 million or more.

"The financial markets have been volatile all year, yet the art market has continued to perform well," said Marc Porter, chairman of Christie's Americas. "It's incredibly strong."

Christie's and Sotheby's are both offering many works that are valued over $10 million, and each has offerings expected to fetch $25 million or even $40 million.

Roy Lichtenstein's "I Can See the Whole Room! ... and There's Nobody in It!" is estimated to sell for up to $45 million at Christie's, and could even set a record.

Degas' bronze sculpture, "Petite danseuse de quatorze ans," cast after his death and one of only 10 remaining in private hands, will lead its Impressionist and modern sale on November 1 when it could fetch up to $35 million.

The sale of 84 lots, about 30 percent more than recent seasons, should take in between $215 million to $310 million.

A bronze sculpture by Matisse, "Nu de dos (1er etat)," is generating intense interest at Sotheby's, where 71 works are expected to take sell for more than $185 million. Its contemporary sale a week later is even larger.

It is the first of a series of four iconic, monumental bronzes of a human back and carries a pre-sale estimate of $20 million to $30 million.   Continued...

<p>Christie's employees pose for photographers with "I Can See the Whole Room...and There's Nobody in It!" from 1961 by Roy Lichtenstein at Christie's in London October 7, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett</p>