With the taste for antique desks and Victorian dining chairs in the Louis XIV style seemingly unabated, the Antiques Trade Gazette has been casting its eye over the annual sales figures, or “bilan” recently released by the Paris sale rooms.
As might be expected, Sotheby’s and Christie’s continue to lead the field. Christie’s France sales of €199m represented a jump of 13% over 2010, and were their best since 2009, when their spectacular Yves Saint Laurent sale resulted in profits of €455m for the year. While some in Lancashire might find an antique balloon back dining chair with a price tag of £4000 – an average estimate at Christie’s – a little steep, spare a thought for the buyer who shelled out €2.9m to have a Ruhlmann chaise longue in their living room. In 2011, it was the Château de Gourdon sale which boosted Christie’s sales figures, with Art Deco furniture by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann again the subject of much fierce bidding.
The Paris branch of Sotheby’s had a similarly successful year, with sales figures of €190m representing a 9% increase over 2010. Between them, these two giants of the auction world provided some of the top prices in the Paris sales, with 50 lots surpassing €1m. Art Curial, the most prestigious of the French auction houses, held on to its third place, with sales of €127m – a 23% increase over 2010. Seven lots realised €1m or more.
Just as in Cumbria, antique dealers in France depend on less prestigious sale rooms to supply customers with the Victorian dining chairs they need. In Paris, most auctioneers use Drouot’s communal auction facility, which last year reported combined sales figures of €475m.
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