International Art Market: High prices paid for right to be choosy: Calculators and Cezanne are in, Old Masters are out in a month of extremes for the auctioneers

OVER the past month a 19th century calculator worth - at a stretch - pounds 100,000, has made pounds 7.7m at auction while a Cezanne, worth about pounds 10m, has reached pounds 18.5m - just in case anyone should forget you only need two competitors at auction to get a crazy price.

The Cezanne has gone to Stavros Niarchos, one of the world's richest and most discerning art collectors, but leading London dealers in scientific instruments are still mystified by the calculator battle.

The gilt and lacquered brass, mechanical calculator by J C Schuster was estimated by Christie's at pounds 15,000- pounds 20,000 but a Swiss clock dealer, Edgar Mannheimer, bought it for pounds 7.7m over the telephone; his competitor was an unidentified German. Mr Mannheimer is said to have been acting for a German private collector.

'It is a real mystery,' Harriet Wynter, a Kensington dealer, said. 'It is a very fine instrument but it only dates from the beginning of the 19th century. It has no historical significance.'

Sebastian Whitestone, of Bobinet, said another 20 or so similar calculators are known to exist.

There were other unexpected highs in a month characterised by erratic auction results. Man Ray's Glass Tears became the world's most expensive photograph when it fetched pounds 122,500 at Sotheby's, multiplying the pounds 20,000- pounds 30,000 estimate roughly five times. But 31 per cent of the photographs were left unsold.

The superb Rodchenko photographs at Christie's the day before had made lacklustre prices with eight out of 24 unsold.

It is a narrow market and the connoisseurs are choosy.

The same goes for Rembrandt prints, to judge by Sotheby's sale of etchings collected over the last 60 years by the German connoisseur Otto Schafer. A wonderful example of Rembrandt's portrait of his friend Jan Six doubled estimates to reach dollars 618,500, but there were no takers for two impressions of The Three Crosses, a much rarer print.

A fourth state impression of The Three Crosses made dollars 990,000 three years ago, so Sotheby's thought they were playing safe with an estimate of dollars 200,000-dollars 300,000 for Schafer's fourth state - the prints Rembrandt made from his plate as he changed ideas and reworked it have been classified as different 'states'. Schafer also had a second state impression of The Three Crosses which was estimated at dollars 600,000-dollars 900,000 but neither sold.

Several American collectors of Old Master paintings turned out to bid on the Rembrandt etchings which saved the sale - 61 out of 72 prints found buyers. But Old Master paintings are not themselves a sure fire market; 40 per cent of the paintings in Sotheby's New York sale were left unsold and 38 per cent at Christie's.

The best price of the month was the Fr9m pounds 1.1m paid in Paris for a portrait by Jean-Etienne Liotard; it was painted in Constantinople around 1740 and depicts an English businessman and the daughter of the French consul, both in Turkish dress.

The worst result of the month was Sotheby's Old Master sale in Madrid on 18 May where 65 per cent of the paintings went unsold. The Prado Museum took advantage of the occasion to aquire two paintings and four drawings at prices ranging from pounds 2,130 to pounds 95,600.

The US is currently the strongest collectors' market. This was born out by the new record price for a 19th century American painting at Sotheby's, the dollars 5.5m ( pounds 3.5m) for an impressionist style interior, The Room of Flowers by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) and by the sale of a first printing of the Declaration of Independence for around dollars 2m.

(Photograph omitted)

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam