Sotheby's Fails to Reach Low Estimate at Modern Art Auction

(Bloomberg) -- Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern art Tuesday in London reaped a tepid 87.5 million pounds ($115.7 million), down 32 percent from a year ago and below its low presale estimate.

Of the 36 offered lots, 10 failed to sell, including some guaranteed by Sotheby’s. Final prices include a buyer’s commission charged by the auction house, which was increased early this month.

The top lot, Pablo Picasso’s painting of his lover Marie-Therese Walter, fetched 27.3 million pounds, missing the estimate of 33 million pounds. Sotheby’s guaranteed the painting and found a client to place a pre-arranged bid, ensuring the work would sell. That client turned out to be the lone bidder for the 1932 painting, “Buste de Femme de Profil (Femme Ecrivant)."

Shares of Sotheby’s were unchanged, closing at $59.07, just off the record high set earlier this month.

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