Supply of Impressionist, Modern art nearing depletion as auction breaks 6 world records





NEW YORK -- Impressionist and Modern art prices reached dizzying new heights on Tuesday night as Sotheby's sold 51 paintings, drawings and sculptures for $278.5 million. This total was surpassed only once in the past, in May 1990, when a sale of Impressionist and Modern art also held here at Sotheby's realized $286.2 million.

The most astonishing of the six world auction records set on Tuesday is the $25.52 million that was paid for Cézanne's watercolor "Nature Morte au melon vert" (Still life with a green melon). When last seen at auction in London at the British Rail Pension Fund on April 4, 1989, the work on paper had then set a world record for a Cézanne drawing at £2.35 million, then the equivalent of $4.3 million...

Until this week, Impressionist and Modern master works on paper were seen as the preserve of sophisticated connoisseurs, unlikely to appeal to the wider public of art buyers. The rapid dwindling of Impressionist art supplies is the primary cause of this transfer of interest to drawings.

Three world records set for paintings on Tuesday likewise reflect the search for alternatives to the vanishing masterpieces of Impressionist and Modern art enhanced by the most famous signatures.



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