October 14, 2011 / 9:35 PM / 7 years ago

Richter, Gormley records fall at Christie's art sale

LONDON (Reuters) - German artist Gerhard Richter may have called the prices his works fetch “daft” this month, but that did nothing to dampen collectors’ enthusiasm at a Christie’s auction in London on Friday.

His 1982 “Kerze,” one of a series of images of candles seen as a key part of his canon, sold for 10.5 million ($16.5 million) at the auction house’s post-war and contemporary art sale, compared with pre-sale expectations of 6-9 million pounds.

Stripping out the buyer’s premium, which is only included on the auction results, the painting still came in at the top end of estimates and set a record for Richter at auction, Christie’s said.

It also proved that high prices for rare works of art are still possible amid global economic turmoil.

British sculptor Antony Gormley also saw his auction record tumble when a human-sized version of his giant “Angel of the North” structure sold for 3.4 million pounds.

Overall Christie’s sold art worth 55.7 million pounds at its combined sale of post-war, contemporary and Italian art, according to preliminary results posted on its website.

That was comfortably within the 43.3-62.1 million pound price target set in advance even after buyer’s premium was stripped out.

The result will come as a relief to the world’s largest auction house and the contemporary art market in general, for which this week’s Frieze Art Fair in London and related auctions were seen as a key test of confidence.

Surveys have shown investors are more wary of spending money on art amid the debt crisis and volatility on other markets, but Christie’s results could help soothe the worse of their fears, at least in the short term.

Sotheby’s held its smaller day sale on Friday, raising 6.7 million pounds on top of the 39.5 million at Thursday’s main auction.

The combined tally of 46.2 million pounds was within expectations of between 42.1 and 58.4 million, although taking into account buyer’s premium the final result was at the low end of estimates.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Jill Serjeant

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