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Art prices soar on euro zone fears

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 02:46

June 20 - Peinture (Etoile Bleue) by Joan Miro sold for the Spanish artist's record at auction in London, at the start of what's expected to be a bumper summer for art sales. Worries about the euro zone and global economy are leading the world's super rich to invest more in art. Joanna Partridge reports

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UPSOUND "Are we all done at 21 million pounds, 21 million pounds I can sell it, last chance. Sold for 21 million pounds" Sold - for a record price. Joan Miro's Peinture (Etoile Bleue) achieved an auction high for the Spanish painter at Sotheby's in London. Including the buyer's premium, it went for just over 23 million pounds or 37 million dollars - to an anonymous buyer. The 1927 painting was one of the most important works by Miro ever to come to market. It headlined Sotheby's sale of impressionist and modern art - at what's expected to be the start of a bumper summer for London art sales, says Helena Newman from Sotheby's. SOUNDBITE: HELENA NEWMAN, CHAIRMAN OF IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART DEPARTMENT, SOTHEBY'S, SAYING (English): "It's the highest price sold so far in London this year and interestingly, it was almost three times the price achieved when it was last sold at auction in 2007." Christie's will be auctioning works by Renoir, Picasso and Gauguin in a sale expected to fetch up to 140 million pounds. Jay Vincze from Christie's says they now see buyers from all around the world. SOUNDBITE: JAY VINCZE, INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR, CHRISTIE'S, SAYING (English): "Unlike some years ago where it was really just Europe and America who were buying art, at any level, even the top level, nowadays the art market truly is global." As euro zone turmoil and slowing Chinese growth are worrying investors, the high-end art market has soared. That was shown by the record-breaking sale of a version of Edvard Munch's The Scream in New York last month. PTC New York has long been seen as the capital of the auction world - but London could be closing the gap. Many Russian tycoons or Middle Eastern buyers have homes in the city. And along with Chinese collectors, they're part of the growing group expected to buy art at this summer's auctions. Caroline Garnham is the Chief Executive of Family Bhive, an online community of ultra high-net-worth individuals. Earlier this year, they surveyed over 70 bankers and investment managers about the best asset class to invest in. SOUNDBITE: Caroline Garnham, Chief Executive of Family Bhive, saying (English): "They're wanting to direct their wealth into something that's rare, that's going to hold its value, like art. We're also seeing a similar trend with wine and also commodities like gold." With the euro zone crisis unresolved and fears about how that will impact the global economy - many predict more auction hammers will keep coming down on record art prices. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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Art prices soar on euro zone fears

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 02:46