CULTURE

Greek art fetches record prices

The success of Sotheby’s Greek Sale, which took place on Wednesday in the main branches of the London auction house, surpassed the best expectations and marked a profit that was far higher than the original estimate made by Sotheby’s experts. Proceeds from the sale amount to 11,584,360 euros (8,163,725 pounds sterling), which, according to the official announcement that followed the sale, is the highest amount garnered at any auction of Greek art held thus far, not just by Sotheby’s but by other auction houses as well. The Sotheby’s Greek Sale last May was the second most successful, with a profit of 11 million euros. Sotheby’s experts also say that the auction has raised the annual turnover made by Sotheby’s Greek Sales to 22.5 million euros (15,6 million pounds sterling). This marks an impressive 97.5 percent increase over the 2006 revenues. In Wednesday’s sale, 65.8 percent of the works were sold above their estimated prices and 16 paintings sold at record prices. «The Captive,» a painting by late-19th-century artist Thodoros Rallis reached the highest price. It was estimated at 300,000-500,000 pounds and sold for 737,300 pounds (1,046,232 euros) to a British art dealer. Paintings by Konstantinos Parthenis were also among the highlights of the auction. Six bidders vied for the painting «The Virgin Mary and Christ,» which eventually sold to a Greek art collector for 950,875 euros more than two times above the original estimate. This is more than any painting by either artist has ever sold for at auction. The same holds for Yiannis Tsarouchis and his painting «The Artist and His Model» which sold to an anonymous collector for 341,271 euros – again more than the double its estimate. The second best record price for this artist was 185,886 US dollars. Another noteworthy sale was that of a triptych by Yiannis Moralis. It sold for 569,446 euros. Other impressive sales included works by Nikolaos Gyzis and Contantinos Volanakis. Also appearing in the auction were works by 20th century modern or contemporary artists, such as Thanos Tsingos, Giorgos Zoggolopoulos, Yiannis Gaitis, Costas Tsoclis and Chronis Botsoglou. Constantine Frangos, senior director and a specialist in charge of Sotheby’s Greek Sales said that the auction’s incredible results are proof of the increasing reputation of Greek art, not just among Greeks but also an international audience. Frangos spoke of the growing impetus of Greek art and said that greater interest in it raises prices and constantly shifts the financial appraisal of the works. Frangos described the particular auction as a lively event attended by serious and determined bidders.This is the sixth consecutive year that Sotheby’s has held auctions of Greek art. The Greek Sale has proven to be one of the most profitable auctions. According to the Sotheby’s announcement, the auctions house’s annual turnover rose from 2.4 million pounds sterling in 2001 to 15.6 million in 2007 which amounts to an increase of around 550 percent. The success of the Greek Sales must be seen as a contribution to this considerable growth.