LONDON (AP) — The high-end art market is weathering Europe's economic storm, with London auctions this week netting more than 280 million pounds ($440 million) as international bidders snapped up high-profile works.
Sales of Impressionist, modern and surrealist art at rival auctioneers Christie's and Sotheby's saw several pre-sale estimates shattered.
Judd Tully, editor-at-large of Art and Auction magazine, said Thursday that the two big auction houses had had "exceptionally strong sales."
"The art market seems to confound all other financial indicators," he said. "There is a lot of money sloshing around, and it's very global."
Christie's said "new and established buyers from 19 countries" snapped up works at a Wednesday sale that saw a portrait by Amedeo Modigliani sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for 26.9 million pounds ($42.1 million), above its top estimate.
Modigliani's 1919 portrait of his lover Jeanne Hebuterne was the highlight of Christie's Impressionist and modern auctions, which raised a total of 136 million pounds ($214 million).
"Apres le dejeuner" by 19th-century Impressionist Berthe Morisot sold for 6.9 million pounds ($10.9 million), almost three times its high estimate and a record price for a female artist at auction.
A day earlier, Pablo Picasso's 1932 work "Woman Sitting Near a Window" — a portrait of the artist's "golden muse," Marie-Therese Walter — fetched 28.6 million pounds ($45 million) at Sotheby's.