Meanwhile, Across the Pond: A Record-Setting Auction

Several hours ago, a sale of postwar and contemporary art at Sotheby’s in London totaled £108.8 million ($174.1 million), the highest result ever for a London evening sale in that category. The sale featured masterpieces of postwar German art from the collection of Count Christian Duerckheim-Ketelhodt; pieces by artists like Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz and Gerhard Richter sold in the millions.

The previous record for an evening sale of contemporary art in London was Sotheby’s sale of February 2008, at the height of the last market boom, which totaled £95 million ($189.4 million).

London sales totals have generally lagged behind New York. Not this season – not for Sotheby’s, at least. Last month, at the biannual contemporary evening sale in New York, Sotheby’s totaled $128 million.

In what was interpreted as a sure sign that the art market is back, Christie’s post-war and contemporary art evening sale in New York in May totaled $301.7 million; in May, 2008, towards the end of the last boom, a New York evening sale at that house brought in $331 million.