Warhol, Richter shine at UK art sales

London: A previously unrecorded Andy Warhol self-portrait sold for 10.8 million pounds ($17.4 million) on Wednesday in London, as a major series of February auctions neared its close.

The 1967 work, which had been in a private collection since 1974, easily beat its pre-sale estimate of 3-5 million pounds at Christie`s post-war and contemporary art evening sale.

It helped lift the total on the night to an impressive 61.4 million pounds ($98.8 million), compared with expectations of 35.9-51.8 million pounds.

The result underlined the strength of the art market, which is not far short of the record sales levels set before the financial crisis in late 2008 that saw volumes shrink dramatically throughout 2009.

"Self-Portrait" is one of a series of 11 large-scale Warhol self-portraits executed in 1967, five of which are in museums.

According to Christie`s, 16 lots sold for over one million pounds at the auction, and six artists` records were set -- Jenny Saville, Martial Raysse, Miquel Barcelo, Wade Guyton, Ged Quinn and Adriana Varejao.

Wednesday`s sale follows a parallel auction at main rival Sotheby`s on Tuesday which raised 44.4 million pounds ($71.5 million) versus estimates of 30.4-43.0 million pounds. The final result included buyers` premiums, however, inflating the total.

The top lot of the evening was Gerhard Richter`s "Abstraktes Bild," 1990, which sold for 7.2 million pounds.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei`s "Sunflower Seeds," the first to appear at auction, fetched 349,250 pounds for a 100 kg pile, making each reproduction porcelain seed worth 3.50 pounds ($5.64).

Bureau Report

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