Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Record prices mark art sale boom

L'homme qui Chavire by Alberto Giacometti
Giacometti's 1951 bronze, L'homme qui Chavire, prompted a bidding war

A sale of Impressionist and Modern Art fetched more than than $180m (£108m) at an auction house in New York, marking an unexpected boom in the market.

Top of the lots was a bronze sculpture by Italian artist Alberto Giacometti which fetched more than $19m (£11.4), soaring above a $12m (£7.2m) estimate.

Artwork by Picasso and Kandinsky also fetched more than $10m (£6m) apiece.

"This was a real shot in the arm for the art market. It was a real vote of confidence," said Sotheby's Simon Shaw.

Sotheby's said it was the first time since May 2006, when art markets were flourishing, that one of its Impressionist sales exceeded the high pre-sale estimate - in this case by almost 10%.

Records were set for Andre Derain, with his painting Barques au port de Collioure fetching just over $14m (£8.4m) - roughly twice the pre-sale estimate - and for Kees Van Dongen, whose Jeune Arabe sold for $13.8m (£8.3m).

"The market is very much alive ... after a year of abstinence," said auctioneer Tobias Meyer.

Works by Pissarro and Leger also achieved twice their estimated prices, while Salvador Dali's Girafe en Feu reached $1,874,500 (£1,130,000) - a record for a work on paper by the surrealist artist.

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