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Van Gogh lures bidders from 44 countries as art season starts on a high

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A female employee of Sotheby's looking at the 'L'homme est en mer' by Vincent Van Gogh, at their showroom in central London which was sold for £16.9 million, during the auction house's Impressionist, Modern and Surreal Art sale. PA

A female employee of Sotheby's looking at the 'L'homme est en mer' by Vincent Van Gogh, at their showroom in central London which was sold for £16.9 million, during the auction house's Impressionist, Modern and Surreal Art sale. PA

PA

A piece by Picasso in the auction.

A piece by Picasso in the auction.

PA

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A female employee of Sotheby's looking at the 'L'homme est en mer' by Vincent Van Gogh, at their showroom in central London which was sold for £16.9 million, during the auction house's Impressionist, Modern and Surreal Art sale. PA

The 2014 art season got off to an impressive start this week in London with auctions by Sotheby's and Christie's of Impressionist, modern and Surrealist art.

A group of 82 pieces from the collection of Geneva art dealer Jan Krugier went on sale. Some 37 works from the collection made £53.3m (€64m) on Wednesday.

Among them were restituted Pissarro painting and a Van Gogh canvas, which attracted collectors from 44 countries. The sale tallied £163.5m, surpassing its high presale estimate of £128.4m. Of 89 offered lots, 10 failed to find buyers, Sotheby's said. Christie's International tallied £177m during its sale on Tuesday, kicking off auctions that represent the first big test of the art market this year.

Modern and Impressionist art sales have been trailing those of post-war and contemporary art with fresh material of high quality harder to obtain.

Demand from new wealthy buyers in China, Russia and other emerging markets was boosting prices for classic works, said Helena Newman, Sotheby's worldwide head of the Impressionist and modern art department.

Irish Independent