Last week in London a sale of just 35 lots brought in $155 million (97 million pounds) for Sotheby's. The highest selling piece was a townscape, "Houses With Laudry (Suburb II)" by Austrian painter Egon Schiele, which went for $40 million, setting a record for the artist. This compares to the sale of 92 lots at Christie's for 140 million pounds, where a high profile Monet failed to sell.
The Schiele painting was offered by the Leopold Museum, Vienna in order to pay settlement in an art restitution case. The previous high for a Schiele work was $22.4 million at a Christie's auction in November 2006. Since Schiele, a protege of Gustav Klimt, had a very short life (1890-1918), dealers say that his oil pieces are rarely on sale.
Out of the 35 lots, only three were unsuccessful, Dealer Stephen Ongpin commented: “The supply of Impressionist and modern works is dwindling, that’s pushing up competition for fresh pieces that appear. Sotheby’s made the most of a tight sale.’’
The desire to buy currently seizing the art world means that it's currently a sellers marker. An Alberto Giacometti bronze "Trois hommes qui marchent II" went for 10.7 million pounds. Two late period paintings by Pablo Picasso, “Couple, Le Baiser,’’ and the “Homme a la pipe et nu couche’’fetched 6.5 million pounds and 4.8 million pounds respectively.