$491 Million Sale Shatters Art Auction Record
By CAROL VOGEL
In a landmark sale, the biggest in auction history, nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of art changed hands last night at Christ’s sale of Impressionist and modern art. Soaring prices for blockbuster paintings by Klimt and Gauguin left thousands of spectators, who came to watch and to buy, gasping.
“It was certainly the most amazing sale I’ve ever taken,“ said a dazed Christopher Burge, honorary chairman of Christ’s and the evening’s auctioneer, after the two-and-a-half hour sale. The evening’s total, $491.4 million, was well over $200 million more than that for any previous auction, topping its high estimate of $427.8 million. (The previous record was $269 million at Christ’s in May 1990.) Of the 84 lots up for sale last night, only 6 failed to sell. The sale included an estimated $125 million worth of artworks that had recently been returned to the heirs of owners from whom they were looted by the Nazis during World War II.
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