'Our art sales rose by 46% in the second quarter of 2009'

An exhibition of large-scale modern and contemporary sculptures organised by Sotheby's opens to the public next Monday.

The expo, called Beyond Limits, will be held in the gardens of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, UK, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, according to the Telegraph.

Highlights will include Henry Moore's 15ft undulating bronze, Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped. It was previously sold in 2003 to a Christie's buyer for a record £3.9m.

Antony Gormley's life-size maquette for Angel of the North - with a 17ft 6in wingspan - will be displayed next to Chatsworth House's majestic Canal Pond.

It is the original cast of a limited edition of five and originally brought £150,000, but is now estimated at £2m. Another one of the set sold at Sotheby's last year for a record £2.3m.

Beyond Limits is run by Sotheby's private sales department - so, in contrast to the fanfare of the auction rooms, prices and sales are kept a secret.

This can be useful: for instance, a wealthy individual who has fallen on difficult times can sell an expensive artwork without anyone knowing - and use the saleroom's long client list.

And apparently, this is exactly what people are doing - with private sales rising by 46% to $134m in the second quarter of this year (April to June) while everything else was down...

Over the past three years, Sotheby's has sold more than £914m of art privately.

"It's a sign of the times," Stephane Cosman Connery, stepson of the actor Sean Connery, and head of Sotheby's private sales in New York, told the Telegraph.

"People have been nervous about selling at auction," he said, after a drop in art sales last autumn. With private sales, there is no risk of public failure if a high-priced item doesn't sell.

And failure is rare in the private sales department.

"We sell about 90 per cent of what we take on," says Connery. "The majority recently has been Impressionist paintings in the $1 million to $5 million range."

Other works to feature at the Chatsworth sale include Indian art superstar Sunil Gupta's eight feet stack of stainless steel buckets, bought in June at Christie's this year for £99,600.

Also appearing is the late Niki de Saint Phalle's 12ft-high coloured glass and pebble Buddha, auctioned in May in Cologne for £190,000.

"We normally sell over 50 per cent of what we offer at Chatsworth," says Alexander Platon, of Sotheby's. "And each year it has been increasingly successful."

For serious collectors, it would appear that private selling is a prosperous and thriving alternative to the public auction markets.

If you have any items that are surplus to requirement please email info@paulfrasercollectibles.com

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock