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The single-owner status of many of the works helped to boost interest, though with such an abundance of quality and hype to feed off, the feeling was that the 30 per cent plus unsold performance of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Part One sale could well have been the result of buyers being sated the night before by the sale of the Whitney Collection.

High unsolds for some of the 19th century sales show that buyers are still cautious and discriminating after the excesses of the late 1980s, but the auction houses can still rely on market-fresh top quality works surging to spectacular prices.