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‘Piccadilly Circus, London’ by L.S. Lowry – £4.5m at Sotheby’s sale of the A.J. Thompson collection of works by the artist.

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The works came from the collection of A.J. 'Tony' Thompson, the owner of a family-run recycling business in Newmarket who was a big buyer in this market up until shortly before his death last year.

After buying his first Lowry in the early 1980s, he put together one of the most notable collections of the artist's work assembled in recent history. His prominent purchases included Piccadilly Circus, London, which he acquired at Christie's in November 2011 for £5m - a price which still jointly holds the artist's auction record along with The Football Match from 1949, also sold at Christie's, in May 2011.

Reappearing here with a £4m-6m estimate, the 2ft 6in x 3ft 4in (76cm x 1.02m) oil on canvas from 1960 sparked a two-way competition on the phone and sold at £4.5m to an unnamed collector.

Smaller Lowry

The Sotheby's sale also included Lowry's only other painting of the location - a smaller version of Piccadilly Circus from 1959 which had been knocked down to Thompson at £500,000 at Phillips in June 1998. Here it was unsold against a

£2m-3m estimate.

However, the collector's first Lowry purchase, Street Musicians from 1938, which he had bought at Sotheby's in March 1982, attracted healthy competition here against a £600,000-800,000 pitch and sold to a US private buyer on the phone at £700,000.