New York auctions feature trophy works by top artists

Mon Nov 5, 2012 12:20pm EST
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than $1 billion worth of fine art, from Picassos and Monets to Rothkos and Richters, will be auctioned at Christie's and Sotheby's in sales that officials say are shaping up to be some of the biggest in years.

The art market, especially at its upper echelons, has thrived as the rich seek a safe haven for their wealth with artworks.

"We had a great rush of consignments for the November auctions," said Marc Porter, Christie's Americas' chairman.

"The property was made up increasingly of discretionary sellers versus estates," he said, referring to collectors who decide to sell a work.

The prices that some of the main items are expected to fetch are eye-popping. Works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Mark Rothko are each expected to sell for as much as $50 million.

Brooke Lampley, Christie's head of Impressionist and modern art, described it as "an exuberant market" with buyers from around the world.

"Participation in our major sales is more global than ever, with buyers from growing markets in South America, Asia, and the Middle East," she explained.

Monet's "Nympheas", one of the artist's water lilies works which Christie's estimates could sell for as much as $50 million, is among the highlights of the sales.   Continued...

"Nature morte aux tulipes" by Pablo Picasso, shown here, will be offered at Christie's 20th Century Art Sale in New York the evening of May 9.