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Christie's London contemporary art sale on target

LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Christie’s auctioneer sold art worth 39.1 million pounds ($61.1 million) at its post-war and contemporary sale in London on Thursday, near the top end of expectations.

While falling short of rival Sotheby’s tally on Wednesday of 54.1 million pounds at the equivalent auction, the result reinforces the view of many experts that confidence has returned to the art market faster than they had expected.

At the same sale in 2009 Christie’s raised just 8.4 million pounds, reflecting weak demand due to the financial crisis and limited supply of top works as owners awaited a recovery before releasing their art for sale.

“The strong results at our international auctions during the second half of last year encouraged vendors who were previously resistant to consign works of art,” said Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s in Europe

“The increased supply of quality works fed a strong demand and led to competitive bidding this evening.”

Top lot on the night was “Relief Eponge or (RE47II)” by Yves Klein, which sold for 5.9 million pounds compared with pre-sale estimates of 5-7 million pounds.

A new auction record was set in London last week when a Giacometti statue fetched $104.3 million at Sotheby’s. (Writing by Mike Collett-White)