After the pandemic year 2020, the French auction market recovered and in the first half of the year found or exceeded the level of 2019. All houses have used the fatal times of exit and travel restrictions to advance their online business. Sotheby's claims to have won 1,500 new bidders compared to the first half of 2019. Christie's reports that nearly fifty percent of the lots were auctioned online; It was there that the highest bid of an online auction was submitted: The legendary Hekking copy from the 17th century of Leonardo's “Mona Lisa” reached 2.4 million euros (estimate 200,000 / 300,000) in the Internet bidder battle. The Drouot, as an amalgamation of almost seventy French auction companies, has also accelerated the expansion of its online platform and expanded it to include neighboring European countries.Auctioneers from Germany, Austria, England, Spain and Italy have joined the French portal, including Lempertz in Cologne and the Dorotheum in Vienna. All content and catalogs are now available in six languages, including German (still www.drouotonline.com; from September to www.drouot.com).

Christie's took the lead in the first half of the year with record sales of 205 million euros, up around 141 percent on the previous half year. "It is very impressive to see how well the market is starting up again," said Cécile Verdier, President of Christie's France, in an interview with the FAZ. The house on Avenue Matignon actually had some excellent collections in its program. In March, a quiet landscape by Gustave Caillebotte tripled its estimate: “Le petit bras de la Seine près d'Argenteuil” was raised to three million euros. The art dealer Michel Périnet's collection of African and Oceanic art set numerous records and 66 million euros in a three-hour auction in June - the highest turnover that such a collection has ever achieved.A mask from the Mortlock Islands, three atolls in the archipelago of the Caroline Islands, which is also extraordinary due to its provenance, was sold for more than ten times the upper estimate at 7.8 million euros. It was brought to Germany in 1877 by the German-Polish ethnographer and biologist Johann Kubary and for several decades belonged to the holdings of the Hamburg Godeffroy Museum and then of the Dresden Museum of Ethnology.It was brought to Germany in 1877 by the German-Polish ethnographer and biologist Johann Kubary and for several decades belonged to the holdings of the Hamburg Godeffroy Museum and then of the Dresden Museum of Ethnology.It was brought to Germany in 1877 by the German-Polish ethnographer and biologist Johann Kubary and for several decades belonged to the holdings of the Hamburg Godeffroy Museum and then of the Dresden Museum of Ethnology.

At the end of June, Christie's auctioned 28 top-class modern works from the collection of French advertising entrepreneur Francis Gross: René Magritte's enigmatic painting “La vengeance” from 1936 was raised to 12.5 million euros (6/10 million): In France it is the most expensive lot of the first half of the year. The offer was part of a new format from Christie's, in which the Paris and London auctions with modernism and contemporaries will be held one after the other on the same evening, live and with broadcast to both cities. "This dynamic is proving to be very positive," says Cécile Verdier: "This puts Paris on the map of capitals in the global art market alongside London, New York and Hong Kong."

Mario Tavella, President of Sotheby's France and Chairman Europe, is also preparing for growth. Sotheby's will only take stock of figures at the end of the year, but is in second place with a solid interim result of around 151 million euros in sales in the auctions, as the art newspaper Le Quotidien de l'Art has added. The privately negotiated business, which according to their own statements has increased enormously in France both at Christie's and Sotheby's, remains an unreported figure that will only be included in the global annual balance sheet. The top lot from Sotheby's was brokered in collaboration with the auction house Mirabaud Mercier: Vincent van Gogh's “Scène de rue à Montmartre” reached 11.25 million euros (5/8 million) in March.The offer with Impressionists and Modernism was one of the most successful of the first half of the year; it brought in a record turnover of almost 37 million euros.

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