October 11, 2010 / 9:47 PM / 9 years ago

Auction houses eye records at New York sales

LONDON (Reuters) - In a sign that confidence is returning to some sectors of the art market, Christie’s and rival Sotheby’s are quietly confident that records for key artists will fall at the upcoming New York sales in November.

Both auctioneers are holding public exhibitions this week to show off some of the most valuable works up for grabs in the United States next month, but they are doing so in London where the annual Frieze art fair acts as a magnet for collectors.

On Monday, Christie’s displayed Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 painting “Ohhh...Alright...” depicting a flame-haired woman speaking into a phone, which it expects to fetch around $40 million.

The company set the auction record for the artist in 2005 when “In the Car” went under the hammer for $16.3 million, although it has privately brokered another Lichtenstein painting for significantly more, according to reports.

Next to the Lichtenstein at the auctioneer’s London showroom was Gerhard Richter’s “Zwei Kerzen” ($12-16 million estimate) and Andy Warhol’s “Big Campbell’s Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable)” ($30-50 million).

The three works will be offered at Christie’s evening sale of post-war and contemporary art in New York on November 10.

Sotheby’s, buoyed by its highest ever sales total for an Asian auction series last week in Hong Kong of $400 million, displayed works estimated to be worth over $300 million at its London headquarters.

The highlight was Amedeo Modigliani’s “Seated Nude,” expected to bring more than $40 million.

The auction record for any work of art by the Italian master was set by Christie’s in Paris earlier this year, when a sculpture sold for $52.3 million including buyer’s premium.

The highest price for a Modigliani painting is $31.4 million set in 2004.

Also on show was Francis Bacon’s “Figure in Movement” dated 1985. The work was given by the British artist to his doctor Paul Brass, who is now selling the painting estimated to be worth $7-10 million.

Sotheby’s holds its impressionist and modern art evening sale in New York on November 2 and contemporary art evening sale on November 9.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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