Auction records tumble as buyers flock back

(First Edition)

TWO HUNDRED years after the fall of the French monarchy, when the Revolutionary authorities auctioned off the Royal Collections, Christie's has auctioned off a pair of Chinese porcelain ewers made for Queen Marie Antoinette for her rooms at Versailles.

The ewers, decorated with goat's head handles, trailing vines and entwined serpents, were said to be among her most prized possessions. Yesterday's buyer clearly understood why, paying pounds 1.04m and breaking the world record for any French decorative object.

Christie's also broke the record for a carpet with a Savonnerie example featuring the arms of Louis XV: it fetched pounds 1.32m. Both the carpet and the ewers were expected to make only pounds 300,000 to pounds 500,000.

A dental set that belonged to Napoleon I sold for pounds 62,000, more than double the estimate. It included gold and steel scrapers and scalpels with which the Emperor once picked his teeth.

To say it has been a good week for the art trade would be an understatement. Dealers prepared to admit it has been barely worth turning up for work in the past two years have been doing a roaring trade at the Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair.

Peter Schaffer, of A La Vieille Russie of New York, said that he had done more business in the first 24 hours than at the entire 1993 fair, which he had felt went well. From a long list of dealers selling works for five- and six-figure sums, Apter Fredericks had sold half his stand, including a rare Queen Anne secretaire chest, circa 1710, for around pounds 35,000, and a George II armchair, circa 1730, for around pounds 50,000; and S J Phillips sold a 19th-century peridot and diamond necklace and earrings from the Bulgarian crown jewels for more than pounds 100,000 each.

Buyers have been spoilt for choice. Among thousands of works of art are two stunning Venetian paintings by Guardi being offered by Agnew's for pounds 3.25m; and a pair of 1890s cut-glass chairs - dainty to look at and strong enough to sit on - for pounds 85,000 from Mallett.

The prize for the most eccentric piece must go to a 1795 ormulu automaton musical clock with a mechanical peacock that flaps its wings, a pagoda that rises the height of the clock to almost five feet, and glass canes that swivel round to simulate waterfalls: Asprey is selling it for pounds 825,000.

The fair continues until 18 June.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test