London's Frieze Art Fair roundup

London's Frieze Art Fair saw buyers descend on the capital between October 14-17, with Christie's, Sotheby's and Phillips pulling in a combined £231.2m ($373m).

This represents a 95.9% increase on the £118m total achieved by the same three houses at last year's fair, boding well for the health of the market. 

The last minute decision to hold a dedicated sale of the Essl Collection at Christie's on October 13 proved hugely successful, with the event bringing in £46.7m ($75.3m).

The hotly anticipated sale featured works from some of the best selling contemporary artists of recent years, including Gerhard Richter's Wolken (Fenster) that led at £6.2m ($10m).

Gerhard Richter Clouds WindowRichter's Wolken (Fenster) headlined the sale of the Essl Collection at Christie's

German artists were particularly well represented (the Essl Museum is based in nearby Austria), with a major selection of works by Sigmar Polke selling for a combined £16.2m ($26.1m).

Christie's head of post war and contemporary art, Francis Outred, commented: "In a month of retrospectives of Anselm Kiefer and Sigmar Polke in London, it was great to see outstanding prices achieved for Polke and Baselitz, which confirmed the growing market confidence in German Post-War art."

Elsewhere, Piero Manzoni's Achrome (1958-1959) headlined a wildly successful sale of 20th century Italian art at Sotheby's on October 17.

Manzoni AchromeManzoni's Achrome proved the highlight of the week, selling for £12.6m ($20.2m)

The work set the highest total at Frieze this year, achieving £12.6m ($20.2m) against an estimate of £7m ($11.2m) - an increase of 80%.

While Phillips failed to match the stellar sums achieved by its two major rivals, a work by Anselm Kiefer realised a solid £818,500 ($1.3m) on October 15.

Bloomberg commented: "Dealers and advisers said the market may remain strong because the expansion of private wealth has boosted the number of collectors. Art sales increased 8 percent from 2012 to 2013 to 47.4 billion euros ($60.5 billion)."

Asian buyers made up a high percentage of the top bidders in the final day of sales at Sotheby's, with two of the top three works (by Martin Kippenberger and Pierre Soulages) going to Chinese collectors.

The Telegraph reported that "Buyers from China had increased by 125 per cent since last year".

The rise in Chinese involvement in foreign markets has been pronounced in recent years as an emergent upper class seeks alternative investments.

The strong results achieved at this year's Frieze testify to the health of the market ahead of New York's auction season, which kicks off with a major sale of contemporary art at Sotheby's on November 11.

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