* Monet's "Nympheas" helps lift Sotheby's H1 earnings by 22
* Christie's posts 12 pct rise in sales
* "Nympheas" fetched $54 mln in London
(Updates with Sotheby's six-month results)
By Michael Roddy
LONDON, July 16 Trophy art sales including
Monet's "Nympheas" and Picasso's "Portrait de femme (Dora Maar)"
ensured bumper earnings for Sotheby's and Christie's in the
first half, the auction houses said on Wednesday.
The sale of Monet's "Nympheas" for 31.7 million pounds ($54
million) last month helped lift Sotheby's sales by 22
percent in the first half of this year to $3.12 billion.
At rival Christie's, record-breaking sales of post-war and
contemporary art helped push total sales in January to June up
12 percent from a year earlier to 2.69 billion pounds, including
the Picasso and 51 other works fetching $10 million or more.
Monet's "Nympheas", a painting of water lilies, recorded the
highest price for any Impressionist work sold at auction this
year, helping Sotheby's achieve its strongest ever sales in
London of Impressionist and Modern Art, totalling 354.1 million
pounds in the first half.
"The record successes we have enjoyed in London this summer
are the fruit of the combination of old rules and new players,"
Mark Cornell, Sotheby's Managing Director for Europe, said in a
"Old rules still apply: quality, rarity, provenance and
correct estimates are key, and new players care just as much
about those criteria as established collectors."
Its sales to Asia jumped 47 percent on a year earlier to
Sotheby's, which earlier this week announced a partnership
with online auction website eBay, said the market for
online sales was growing exponentially, and that online bidders
had competed for 17 percent of lots offered thus far in 2014.
It said that 492 lots sold this year had reached prices
exceeding $1 million.
Christie's major sales in the first half were another Monet,
"Nymphea", which sold in New York for $27 million in May, and at
the same auction Picasso's "Portrait de femme (Dora Maar)",
which went for $22.6 million, including commissions.
In London, Francis Bacon's "Portrait of George Dyer Talking"
sold for 42.2 million pounds in February, and an egg by U.S.
artist Jeff Koons sold for 14.1 million pounds.
Christie's said 24 percent of all buyers in the first half
were new to the house. It also reported a 70 percent increase in
"Digital engagement and new buyers coming to the market have
continued to drive growth; new clients represented 24 percent of
all buyers and 15 percent of the sales total in the first half
of 2014," Christie's said.
It said it would open a new Shanghai office in October and
new galleries in New York City's Rockefeller Center in November
to keep pace with growing demand.
"Our strategy to engage this growing audience for art
through auction, private sales and digitally has been validated
and again welcomed many new buyers," Steven Murphy, its chief
executive officer, said in the statement.
($1 = 0.5834 British pounds)
(Editing by Susan Fenton)