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Christie’s, with sales of €186m (£134m), consolidated their lead but dropped seven per cent on 2006, when the €60m Dray Collection of Art Deco and modern art boosted their totals.

The biggest change saw Sotheby’s sales total climb a hefty 92 per cent to €119m (£85.6m), closing the gap on Artcurial, who registered total sales of €125m (£900m), including sales at their subsidiaries in Deauville and Toulouse.

Fuelling Sotheby’s 2007 charge was the €12.2m (£8.8m) taken on December 12 for Francis Bacon’s Seated Woman – reflecting both Sotheby’s new emphasis on Paris as a major auction centre and the recent European Union capping of droit de suite at €12,500, which now makes Paris a less unattractive venue for selling frontline 20th century art.

Tajan’s sales dipped around three per cent to €70m (£50.4m), but Piasa had a good year, with sales up 34 per cent at €48.7m (£35m).

Strong sales of modern and contemporary art helped Cornette de St-Cyr and Millon & Associés enjoy their best-ever years, and Aguttes also posted strong results. Their prestigious André Lefèvre modern art collection on December 21 took just over the top estimate at €17.6m (£12.7m) hammer.

Total sales at the Hôtel Drouot remained stable at around €500m (£360m), although the run-up to Christmas saw a string of strong prices in various fields and, typifying the highly fragmented Paris scene, at a number of different auctioneers.

These included: €660,000 (£496,240) for a Louis XVI Nubienne clock at Delorme – Collin du Bocage (November 23); €282,000 (£212,030) for a pair of Christofle bronze vases at Rieunier (December 3); €250,000 (£187,970) for a gold snuffbox (Paris 1757) at Mathias & Copains (November 28); €220,000 (£165,415) for a 17th century Indian miniature by Ali Raza at Pescheteau-Badin (December 12); €215,000 (£162,880) for a 19th century ebony oratory from Bavaria at Libert (December 14); €170,000 (£128,790) for a 15th century Benedictine antiphonary manuscript at Thierry de Maigret (December 7); €170,000 (£127,820) for a late 17th century Rouen (Louis Poterat) soft-paste porcelain mustard-pot at Ferri (December 12); and €1.1m (£827,070) for Dinet’s 1889 Combat autour d’un Sou at Gros-Delettrez’s €5m Orientalist sale on December 10/11.

Elsewhere, a 6.50ct emerald-cut blue diamond sold for €2.43m (£1.75m) in Rheims on December 8, while sales at Osenat in Fontainebleau rose 46 per cent to €17.3m (£12.4m).

By Simon Hewitt