Art revival lifts Christies' fortunes

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The Independent Online
SALES of art collections of Barbra Streisand and the late Malcolm Forbes helped to push auction sales at Christies International to pounds 781m last year, the auctioneer's best figures since the market's peak in 1990, writes Nigel Cope.

Total sales for 1993/94 were up 14 per cent on the previous year, underlining the revival in confidence in world art markets. Christies' figures follow healthy announcements by its rival auction houses Sotheby's, Phillips and Bonham's earlier this week.

Furniture, jewellery and oriental art were particularly strong, with sales up by more than a third. Books, manuscripts and stamps also performed well.

''The continued growth evident this season underlines our confidence in the long-term future of the art market,' said Sir Anthony Tennant, Christies International chairman.

The resurgence of confidence among US buyers continued. More buyers were also found in Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea.

It was a year of high-profile sales. The Barbra Streisand collection of 20th-century decorative arts sold for pounds 4.1m. The highest sale of the year was a collection of French furniture from the couturier Hubert de Givenchy, which fetched pounds 17m in Monaco, pounds 5m more than Christies' estimate.

London sales were 28 per cent higher than last year. Highlights included the pounds 7.7m achieved for a 3,000-year-old Assyrian relief discovered in the tuckshop at Canford School.

Commenting on the outlook for the art market, Christies' finance director, Peter Blythe, said: 'We are confident that the market will continue to improve steadily. There are no signs of the huge boom of the late 1980s, but that is probably a good thing.'

(Photograph omitted)