Christie's raised £41.2m from its combined London sales of post-war, contemporary and Italian art last night, towards the lower end of pre-sale estimates and down on the equivalent auctions of 2011.
The world's biggest auctioneer had expected to sell art worth £36.6m to £51.9m, and when buyers' premiums are deducted, yesterday's total comes in at around the low estimate.
Last year the combined tally was £55.7m pounds.
The auctions coincided with the start of the Frieze Art Fair which opened to the public on Thursday and has become an important fixture in the contemporary art market calendar.
Rival auctioneer Sotheby's holds its sales late on Friday, and in addition to more than 170 galleries exhibiting at Frieze, dozens more are selling top works across the city to capitalise on the presence of hundreds of wealthy collectors.
The top end of the art market has performed strongly in recent years despite global economic weakness and concerns over unemployment, the Euro and faltering Chinese growth.
But Sotheby's saw its Hong Kong autumn sales of Asian and Chinese artwork and luxury goods fall well short of last year's levels, fetching $258m or 37 percent less than in the same period of 2011.
At Christie's, the top price was for Martin Kippenberger's Untitled, which fetched 3.1 million pounds, a new auction record for the artist. Piero Manzoni's Achrome realised £2.6m pounds in Italy.