London's biggest art sale could net £450m

Last updated at 14:55 13 June 2007

Auction houses Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips de Pury and Co are expected to sell more than £450million of impressionist, modern and contemporary art next week in what is set to be the highest value series ever staged in Europe.

Significant paintings by the likes of Monet, Matisse, Bacon and Freud are expected to lure the growing ranks of international


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Danseuse Dans Le Fauteuil, Sol En Damier

There are 45 lots in Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art sale next week - each with an estimated average value of £1.2 million.

Starring in Sotheby's sale is a £10-15million Claude Monet - an "iconic" work from the artist's celebrated water lilies series, which Sotheby's said was one of the finest ever to have come on the market.

Monet's Nympheas of 1904 is one of the earliest examples in the series in which he focused almost entirely on the water surface, marking a move towards an increasingly abstract treatment of space.

It was purchased from Michel Monet, the artist's son, in the 1920s by a French collector, remaining in the same family for 80 years and not been seen in public since it was shown in Paris in an exhibition in 1936.

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Monet's Nympheas

Melanie Clore, Co-Chairman of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Department worldwide, said: "This Nympheas of 1904 is by far the best work by the artist to have appeared on the market in recent times."

Other highlights include an £8-12 million Matisse, an £8-12 million Bacon, and a £3-4 million Hirst.

Sotheby's said that the sales are studded with American consignments, with works of particular Russian and Asian appeal.

Christie's is also preparing for what it calls its most important Impressionist

and Modern sale ever.

Impressionist and Modern art sales in the London art market have grown by 241 per cent since 2002, compared with 188 per cent in New


However, there is still a little way to go to beat the New York art sale record - last month

works worth £700 million went under the hammer.

Sotheby's vice-chairwoman Helena Newman said: "Five, six or seven years ago it looked like the market was always going to be New York and London would be a sideshow, but it has become the main driving force alongside New York.

"There's this extraordinary confluence of City money and money from the emerging markets - India, Russia and the Far East - where people feel happy to trade out of London and use it as their base."

Many City bonuses, which totalled £10 billion last year, have been ploughed into art.

Pilar Ordovas of Christie's said: "The appearance of significant works by Freud, Bacon,

Warhol and many others presents a tremendous opportunity for today's international

collectors seeking iconic works."

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