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Against a background of tumbling stockmarkets and global economic uncertainty, none of the auctions in the capital could be described as stellar, but the sector did not witness the severe correction that some had predicted.

Sotheby's evening sale on February 10 performed moderately well in parts, with 43 of the 55 lots selling for a hammer total of £59.4m. This figure was below the estimate of £60.2m-86.1m.

The sale was led by Lucian Freud's Pregnant Girl that drew six bidders and was knocked down at £14.2m, overshooting a £7m-10m estimate.

Dating from 1960-61, it was an early painting that had been in the same collection for over 30 years. It depicted the artist's lover, 17-year-old Bernadine Coverley, who at the time was pregnant with their daughter, the fashion designer Bella Freud.

The auctioneers reported bidding from Russian and Asian clients on the picture.

Another work that drew strong interest was Adrian Ghenie's Sunflowers of 1937 which was estimated at £400,000-600,000 but sold at £2.65m, more than double the previous auction record for the artist which was set at Sotheby's in June 2014.

"There was much debate about the market ahead of the sale, but in spite of the broader economy, tonight proved that collectors will always compete for works of outstanding quality and rarity," said Alex Branczik, Sotheby's head of Contemporary art in London.

Christie King Street saleroom

Christie’s saleroom in London as Lucian Freud’s Head of Esther was knocked down at £4.2m (est: 2.5m-3.5m) to a telephone buyer.

Doig leads Christie's auction

Christie's post-war and Contemporary art evening sale on February 11 raised a hammer total of £49.8m. While the total here again fell below the estimate of £50m-£74m, the selling rate was more encouraging as 54 of the 61 lots got away (89%).

Top lot of the night was Peter Doig's The Architect's Home in the Ravine from 1991 which sold on low estimate at £10m to a phone buyer.

It had previously fetched £6.8m in the same rooms in February 2013.

Phillips' equivalent evening sale on February 9 totalled £24.6m including premium with 72% sold by lot.

The overall total for the Contemporary art sales was £173m with premium, with one day sale still to come at the time of going to press. This compares to  £293m from the equivalent sales last year.