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Published: Thursday February 16, 2012 MYT 8:50:00 AM

Richter helps Sotheby's contemporary sale hit target


LONDON (Reuters) - All six works by German artist Gerhard Richter on offer found buyers at Sotheby's London sale of contemporary art on Wednesday, helping to lift the auction total to the upper end of expectations.

Richter's "Abstraktes Bild (numbered 768-4)", executed in 1992, fetched 4.9 million pounds, above pre-sale estimates of 3.0-4.0 million and the top lot on the night.

The artist also commanded the second highest price, 4.3 million pounds, for "Eis" (Ice) and equal third at 4.1 million pounds for "Abstraktes Bild (Rot)".

That honour was shared by Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose "Orange Sports Figure" was signed using invisible ink and detectable only using UV light.

Overall Sotheby's fetched 50.7 million pounds versus expectations of 35.8-49.7 million. However, if the buyer's premium is taken into account, the amount realised falls within the pre-sale range.

While meeting its target, Sotheby's may be disappointed to fall behind arch-rival Christie's, the world's largest auctioneer.

Christie's equivalent auction on Tuesday raised 80.6 million pounds, and taking into account two smaller sales on Wednesday, its total for post-war and contemporary art was 109.5 million pounds, its record for London.

The star lot was a female nude by Francis Bacon which sold for 21.3 million pounds, towards the lower end of expectations.

Sotheby's holds its smaller day sale of contemporary art on Thursday.

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