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International Art Market: Highgate view is spared cut-price sale

A PREVIOUSLY unknown 17th-century view of Highgate by Jan Sieberechts, which the Leger Gallery has recently brought back to London, turned up in a minor New York auction on 26 January - wrongly catalogued.

The catalogue of the auction at the William Doyle Galleries described it as a View of Nannau Hall, Cardiganshire and forecast a price in the dollars 50,000-dollars 70,000 range. Several dealers had recognised the view and Leger's ended up paying dollars 750,500 ( pounds 503,000). A house called The Grove is in the foreground while Westminster Abbey can be picked out in the distance. Leger's is having the painting cleaned and will be offering it for sale later in the year.

Meanwhile, Charles Saatchi, the British advertising tycoon and renowned collector, was trying to get rid of a couple of unpopular works in New York. Sotheby's had tried to find a buyer for Malcolm Morley's Fire Island with a Second Ending - a huge painting of picture postcards - in November 1992 and May 1993 without success; they dropped the estimate to dollars 100,000-dollars 150,000 for their third attempt on 25 February but the bidding stopped at dollars 65,000 ( pounds 43,600). Similarly, Lucas Samaras' gold plated bronze Chair with Male-Female Entanglement which had failed to sell last May, bombed again with the bidding sticking at dollars 32,500 ( pounds 21,800) - well below the dollars 45,000-dollars 65,000 estimate. There were more bidders, including dealers, at the February sale than had been seen at contemporary auctions for a while; 73 per cent of the lots on offer had found buyers at the end of the day.

The company that attempts to unite the 70 odd Paris auctioneers, the Compagnie des Commissaires- Priseurs de Paris, announced a 7.5 per cent rise in business during 1993 to a total of 3.4bn francs ( pounds 400m) on 15 February.

Meanwhile, the largest auctioneering partnership, Ader Tajan, announced that two of the partners, Jacques Tajan and Antoine Ader, had got rid of the third, Remi Ader, after a legal battle; they alleged that he had contributed 0.1 per cent of the partnership's business while taking one- third of the profits.

In London, sales of English furniture have proved particularly successful with strong bidding on middle-of-the road 18th-century pieces. At the sale of the de Trafford collection on 3 March, Partridge's, the Bond Street dealers, paid pounds 38,900 for a Chinese lacquer dressing table estimated at only pounds 10,000- pounds 15,000.

Phillips also got a surprise on 2 March when an 18th-century stoneware teapot, decorated in relief with chinoiserie scenes, sold for pounds 75,900 against an estimate of pounds 15,000- pounds 20,000. It was made by J F Bottger at Meissen.