Colin Gleadell boils down the British sales where the international buyers seem to have vanished:
It was tough at the top for the highest estimated lots in Christie’s Modern British Art sale last week when nine of the expected top 12 elicited little competition, selling at or below the lower end of their estimated prices. In a sale that was heavily populated with sculptures, it was notable that most competition came for exquisite, small carved works rather than bronzes. A 16-and-a-half inch, smoothly rounded sandalwood carving by Barbara Hepworth soared three and a half times over its estimate to sell for £1.4 million – a record for a wood carving by Hepworth – while a curvaceous two-foot Bath stone carving, Eve by Eric Gill, more than doubled estimates to sell for £818,500. There was little evidence, though, of the international bidding that characterised Christie’s previous sale where the larger Gill carving of Joan of Arc tied to the stake made an extraordinary £2.2 million. Amongst the paintings, a record £1.2 million was paid for David Bomberg’s rooftop view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem which had been a jewel in private dealer Ivor Braka’s collection for 30 years.
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