Old Master paintings set records at pounds 13m auction

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SEVEN Old Masters had their auction records broken at Sotheby's in New York on Thursday. In a sale ranging from Rubens to Renaissance bronzes, with one of the finest groups of Old Master paintings to come to auction in years, only nine of 77 items failed to find buyers. They totalled nearly pounds 13m, against an expected pounds 8m, writes Dalya Alberge.

The results said as much about the quality of the works - from the collection of Peter Jay Sharp, the New York property tycoon, collector and philanthropist, who died last year - as the art market.

Top price was achieved by a pair of Canaletto Capricci, Rococco Venetian fantasies, which sold for dollars 2.31m (pounds 1.55m). But the star of the show was the 1580s image of a Boy Drinking, seen through the wine glass from which he is drinking, attributed to Annibale Carracci, the Italian master inspired by Correggio and Titian. It fetched dollars 2.20m (pounds 1.47m), more than twice the dollars 900,000 estimate.

(Photograph omitted)