Appetite for Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art insatiable

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Chariot by Alberto Giacometti

The past two weeks have seen blockbuster auction results, not least at Sotheby’s New York auctions of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art and Mellon Masterworks, where collectors’ insatiable appetite drove sales totals to $1.06 billion / £667.9 million / HK$8.25 billion.

The Evening Sale achieved the highest price across all auction houses this year and nine works sold for over $30 million, including Giacometti’s Chariot, which fetched $101 million / £63.1 million / HK$782.8 million.

Over the course of the city’s busiest auction season to date, Sotheby’s sales attracted an unprecedented 1,900 participants from all corners of the globe, over a fifth of whom registered to bid online.

As 43 Masterworks from the collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon soared over estimate, collectors also vied for once-in-a-life time opportunities to own pinnacle works by Alberto Giacometti, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns and many others,with nine works selling for over $30 million.

Bill Ruprecht, Sotheby’s president, chairman and CEO, said: “We have just witnessed nine days that are unrivalled in the history of the art market. We saw demand for great works coming from nearly 50 countries and unprecedented digital engagement, with more than 15% of our auction participants registering to bid online.

“And yet, there are still many treasures that remain in our 2014 sales – including an iconic work by Georgia O’Keeffe and The Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon in New York, one of the last great Turner masterpieces remaining in private hands headlining Old Masters Week in London and four days of events, exhibitions and sales in Beijing.”