(Updates with details on Sotheby’s offerings, valuations)
By Michael Roddy
LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The London auction scene is gearing up for another big season, with the two biggest auction houses targeting buyers around the world for evening sales in February expected to generate several hundred million pounds.
Sotheby’s is offering a view of Venice by French impressionist Monet for an estimated 20-30 million pounds ($30 million-$45 million) as part of February evening sales it says could bring in as much as 202 million pounds overall.
Rival Christie’s expects its main surrealist, modernist and impressionist lots to fetch up to 134 million pounds in the same month.
Sotheby’s is banking on broad global interest for its offering of Monet’s “Le Grand Canal” of 1908, which was on loan to The National Gallery in London from 2006-14.
“The market for works by Claude Monet has now reached an all-time point of strength, with bidders coming from four times as many countries as a decade ago,” Helena Newman, Sotheby’s co-head of impressionist and modern art worldwide, said in a statement.
London’s high-end art scene has attracted a growing number of buyers from Asia, Russia and Latin America in recent years, reflecting the growing number of multi-millionaire art enthusiasts in emerging markets.
Sotheby’s is displaying a number of paintings in Hong Kong to generate interest ahead of the sale, including Monet’s “L‘Embarcadere” (1871), estimated at 7.5-10 million pounds, and works by Matisse, Toulouse-Lautrec and Magritte.
Christie‘s, which had previously announced it would be selling Cezanne’s Mediterranean landscape “Vue sur L‘Estaque et Le Chateau d‘If” in February, with a pre-sale estimate of 8-12 million pounds, said on Thursday it will also be auctioning a large range of surrealist art.
The 36 surrealist lots include Joan Miro’s “L‘oiseau au plumage deploye vole vers l‘arbre argente” from 1953, estimated at 7-9 million pounds, alongside works by Magritte, Chagall, Picabia, Arp, Ernst, Tanguy and Dominguez, Christie’s said.
Olivier Camu, deputy chairman of impressionist and modern art for Christie‘s, said the surrealist sale was the “strongest and most valuable” grouping of such works the house had ever offered and was attracting strong interest among buyers.
“They realise, together with the modern classical collectors, that surrealism is still not that expensive,” he said in a telephone interview.
Editing by Sam Wilkin