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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Pissarro painting sells for $32 million as records tumble at several London art auctions

LONDON - A Paris streetscape by Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro has sold for over $32 million — double its top estimate in a week of strong sales of Impressionist and modern art at London auction houses.

The high-end art market has rebounded from the global financial crisis of 2008, with new buyers from Russia, China and the Middle East helping to drive prices upward.

Pissarro's "Boulevard Monmartre, Spring Morning" from 1897 was bought for 19.9 million pounds ($32.1 million), more than four times the previous record for a single work by the artist. It had been estimated at 7 million to 10 million pounds.

The painting was part of industrialist Max Silberberg's collection. Silberberg was forced by the Nazis to sell his artworks and died in the Holocaust. The painting was returned to his family in 2000.

At the same sale Wednesday, Vincent Van Gogh's "Man is at Sea" — once owned by actor Errol Flynn — sold for 16.9 million pounds ($27.5 million), double its top estimate. Pablo Picasso's work on paper "Minotaur Composition" quadrupled its estimate to sell for 10.4 million pounds ($16.9 million).

The buyers of all three pieces wished to remain anonymous.

Several less-heralded works also smashed expectations. "Mendiant Hindou" ("Hindu Beggar"), pencil drawing by French artist Georges Seurat, had been valued at up to 120,000 pounds ($196,000). The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles bought it at Sotheby's on Thursday for 2.4 million pounds ($4 million).

At rival Christie's on Tuesday, Juan Gris' "Nature Morte a La Nappe a Carreaux" ("The Checked Tablecloth") sold to an anonymous private buyer for 34.8 million pounds ($56.7 million), a record for the artist and double its pre-sale estimate.

The auction, which included works by Picasso, Piet Mondrian and Fernand Leger, brought in 176.9 million pounds ($288 million) — the highest-ever total for a Christie's sale in London.

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