Sotheby's sales top forecasts

CONTEMPORARY art turned in a string of price sensations at Sotheby's last night.

The biggest moneyspinner was The Painter's Room, by Lucian Freud, which fetched pounds 507,500, easily topping the pre-sale forecast of pounds 300,000 to pounds 400,000. It was secured by Lucy Mitchell-Innes, of Sotheby's in New York, who was relaying telephone bids.

The first 14 lots in the sale came from a German collection. Lot 1, a very early work by the Spanish master Antoni Tapies, La Gran Paraula, soared to pounds 150,000 against an estimate of pounds 50,000 to pounds 70,000. The second lot, an assemblage by Josef Beuys, was even more hotly competed for. It ran to pounds 298,500 against a pre-sale estimate of pounds 50,000 to pounds 70,000.

The most expensive picture of the evening was supposed to be a classic work by Yves Klein. But RE 49, a blue canvas with sponges impregnated with blue paint adhering to it, was left unsold at pounds 520,000.

Other notable successes included an early David Hockney, The Cruel Elephant of 1962, at pounds 221,500, and Gerhard Richter's Junge Frau at pounds 210,500.

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