International Art Market: Recession still epressing sales t auctions: Paintings return to Paris saleroom at reduced prices

AUCTION houses are still waiting for the recession to lift. Sotheby's saw 41 per cent of the Old Master drawings offered on 18 April left unsold and 53 per cent of its European sculptures and works of art three days later; Christie's was left with 48 per cent of its Islamic art and Oriental miniatures unsold on 26 April.

The worst results were in sales where little of quality was offered. But the high failure rates underline how narrow the market has become.

In Paris at the weekend, four paintings that came up for sale four years ago were back in the salerooms because the buyers had not paid for them. Unfortunately for the sellers - the leading dealers Lucien and Marcelle Bourdon - prices this time round were nowhere near as good. The original sale had taken place at the height of the market.

Robert Delaunay's vibrant Eiffel Tower (1929), which sold for Fr6m ( pounds 600,000) in 1990, fetched only Fr2.25m ( pounds 268,000); Soutine's incisive Portrait of a Boy (1928), which made Fr4.3m ( pounds 430,000) last time, went for Fr1.85m ( pounds 221,000); and Leger's Cycle (1929) which reached Fr5.2m ( pounds 520,000) in 1990, went for Fr2m ( pounds 239,000). Most dramatically, Dubuffet's At First (1964), which made Fr7.4m ( pounds 740,000) in 1990, sold for only Fr2.37m ( pounds 283,000).

Earlier in the month, there were only two outstandingly successful auctions - sports memorabilia, which Sotheby's offered in New York on 9 April, and its sale of Chinese paintings in Taipei, Taiwan, the next day.

In New York, out of the 628 mementoes, only one was unsold. A record price was set for a baseball bat when the one used by 'Babe' Ruth to hit 56 home runs in 1921 fetched dollars 63,000 ( pounds 42,800).

The Taipei sale comprised 700 antique paintings and a few modern ones from the collection of a 96-year-old Chinese warlord, Zhang Xueliang. Every lot was sold, for a total of pounds 3.4m, almost three times Sotheby's high estimate. A Song dynasty hand scroll painted with a spray of peach blossom was bought for pounds 424,359, four times estimate, by a Taiwanese collector.

British pictures have been a drag on the market throughout the recession; there are not enough wealthy English collectors to go round. This was underlined when almost half the British paintings offered by Sotheby's on 13 April were left unsold; at Christie's two days later, 37 per cent of the lots were left without buyers. But great British eccentricities still bring money out of the woodwork - a painting from about 1677, artist unknown, that depicts the royal gardener presenting the first pineapple raised in England to Charles II was sold to Christopher Gibbs, the Bond Street dealer, for pounds 463,500.

The Old Master paintings offered one week later were not a distinguished lot, but sold a little better than their British counterparts. However, with 22 per cent unsold at Sotheby's and 26 per cent at Christie's, even this sector is not booming.

Sotheby's had failed to spot the star lot in its sale, View of the Grand Canal, which it attributed to the 'Venetian School, 18th century' and estimated at pounds 10,000- pounds 15,000; dealers decided it was by Marieschi and ran the price to pounds 364,500. Christie's were well aware that their Canaletto, Capriccio, was a winner, and it sold for pounds 2.2m to the London dealer, Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living