10067 Lot 8 - Claude Monet, Meules.jpg
‘Meules’ or 'Haystacks' by Claude Monet, a 2ft 5in x 3ft 1in (73 x 93cm) oil on canvas from 1890 that sold for $97m (£75.2m) at Sotheby’s New York. It became the eighth-highest price for a work of art sold at auction.

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Sotheby’s is the latest to reveal its figures, showing auction, private and inventory sales reached $3.1bn (£2.55bn), down 10% from $3.5bn in the same period in 2018.

According to research firm ArtTactic, total worldwide auction sales for Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips combined fell 20.3% to $5.55bn (£4.56bn) in the first half of 2019.

Despite the slowdown Sotheby’s president and CEO Tad Smith said: “We are very pleased with our second quarter and first half performance.”

Private sales totalled $511m (£420m), down 6% from $542m in the same period in 2018, but sales in Hong Kong totalled $495m (£407m), in line with last year’s record-level results.

Sotheby’s top sale during the first half was a $97m (£75.2m) ($110.7m with premium) Claude Monet painting of Haystacks which sold in May in New York.

The US-listed firm is preparing to be taken private after it agreed to be bought by French telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi for $3.7bn in June.

Smith added: “The proposed acquisition of our company is on track and we remain focused on serving our global clients.”

Among the consignments already secured for the autumn auction season, Sotheby’s highlighted 280 works of art from the collection of French designers François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne which will be sold in a two-day auction in Paris at the end of October.