CULTURE

Greek art sale at Sotheby’s in London exceeds expectations, breaking record

There is lively interest in Greek art in London. Sentimental reasons and good investment are the secret of its success. The sixth Greek sale at Sotheby’s made a record sum on May 12 in the crowded room at New Bond Street, where 129 works by 19th and 20th century Greek artists changed hands, knocked down by the auctioneer’s hammer. The atmosphere was electric, with standing room only for many art lovers and collectors. The previous sale, held in November, had set the earlier record of 2.9 million pounds. As art historian Constantine Frangos, who was in charge of the auction, said, «We didn’t do at all badly this year, given that the overall take from the May sale was 2.85 million pounds.» «In the Kitchen,» an oil on canvas by Nikiforos Lytras (1893-1904), was bought by a Greek for 422,400 pounds (617,931 euros), which was a record for the artist. Similarly, «The Burning of a Turkish Frigate,» by Constantine Volanakis (1837-1907), went for 585,162 euros. Third came Lytras’s «The Easter Egg,» an oil on canvas, which was bought by the Panhellenic Holy Foundation of Panaghia Tinou for 404,942 euros. It is the organization responsible for keeping the collection of jewelry and votive offerings brought to the icon of the Virgin of Tinos by believers from around the world. Now the foundation owns this charming work where a little girl in island costume and kerchief carefully peels a red Easter egg. Other paintings that sold very well were «Angels» by Constantine Parthenis (1878-1917), oil on canvas, which went for 149,216 euros, and Spyros Papaloukas’s «Houses in Protato – Mount Athos,» an oil on cardboard, which made a record for the artist, at the price of 122,884 euros. Contemporary painters such as Alekos Fassianos, Yiannis Cottis, Dikos Vyzantiou, Giorgos Rorris, Sarantis Karavouzis and Chronis Botsoglou got prices well above the reserve. Dikos Vyzantiou heard the good news in Paris where he is staying, from his nephew Alexandros Liakopoulos, son of gallery owner Marilena Diakopoulou. The seventh Greek sale will be take place in London in mid-November, and preparations have already begun for the next May auction. «The auction exceeded all expectations and showed there is a strong market for Greek works in London. There was lively interest in 19th and 20th century works and the contemporary works were in steady demand,» said Frangos and his colleague Tessa Kostrzewa. The consolation is that while those who inherited the paintings are selling them, Greek collectors are keen to buy them so that they remain in Greek hands.