LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - Christie’s held London’s biggest ever art auction on Wednesday when its impressionist and modern sale fetched 153 million pounds ($227 million), but the total fell short of expectations of 164-231 million pounds.
The big disappointment on the night came when a Monet water-lily painting worth an estimated 30-40 million pounds failed to sell. Bidding reached 29 million pounds.
The other top lot did change hands, however, with a Blue Period portrait by Picasso selling for 34.8 million pounds. The price includes a buyer’s premium.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose charity sold the painting, said he was pleased with the price, “especially in such austere times.
“This is a significant amount to devote to the Foundation’s passions -- architecture and the sponsorship of young talent in musical theatre.”
Overall, the auction total of 153 million pounds eclipsed the previous London auction record of 147 million pounds set by rivals Sotheby’s in February.
On Tuesday, Sotheby’s sold art worth 112 million pounds, towards the lower end of its range of estimates from 101 to 148 million.
The results underlined how strongly the fine art market has recovered following a brief slump caused by the financial crisis. But they failed to match the buzz surrounding sales earlier this year when world auction records were broken twice.
“This has been a very strong week of sales, even if on some pictures the expectations of sellers were not matched to those of potential buyers,” said Robert Korzinek, fine art expert at specialist insurer Hiscox.
“What is important is that we have returned to a more normal level of liquidity in the art market.”
Christie’s said 55 percent of the lots sold were bought by European buyers, 40 percent by buyers from the Americas and five percent from Asia. (Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Matthew Jones)
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