Buyers Return for Healthy Christie's Sale

Auction house pulls in $103M, besting rival Sotheby's
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2009 7:33 AM CDT
The sale room at Christie's auction house in New York, where the top lot last night was a Picasso portrait selling at $14.6 million.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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(Newser) – The art market performed better last night at Christie's New York sale of Impressionist and modern art, pulling in $103 million after a lackluster showing by its rival Sotheby's on Tuesday. The top lot was a 1968 portrait by Picasso, which sold for $14.6 million. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Christie's took few chances on the sale, listing many works with rock-bottom estimates to entice cautious collectors.

The majority of works for sale were priced between $250,000 and $4 million, a far cry from the $10 million-plus estimates that were once commonplace at its sales. Another safe strategy for the auction house: naked women. No fewer than eight paintings depicted female nudes, including a Degas that went for $5.9 million. "Prices had gotten out of hand recently," said one collector, "but now they are, well, in hand. It's time to buy."