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Christie’s follow-up to its new 21st century art sale, which brought in $211 million on Tuesday, was a slightly weightier 20th century art auction with 50 lots and a pre-sale estimate in excess of $345 million. Covering works made between 1880 and 1980, the auction made a grand total of $481.1 million, with just one lot unsold. (Prices for sold works include buyer’s premium; estimates do not.)
This week’s marquee sales were bound to be a close call between Christies’s and Sotheby’s. Before they were held, the former’s two sales were expected to bring in $490 million, while the latter’s three-auction marathon the previous evening was estimated at $436 million. But last night’s auction made Christies’s new formula look like a winner. Nine works carried estimates higher than $10 million, so the sale was seen as a test of confidence at the high end of the market.