The auction got off to an impressive start when Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Remy
by Vincent Van Gogh sold for £10,121,250 ($15,961,211), substantially above its estimated price.
The painting was one of 38 works from the collection of actress Elizabeth Taylor to be put up for auction at Christie's
. Others included a self-portrait by Edgar Degas, and Pommiers à Éragny
by Camille Pissarro, the latter also passing the million pound mark, selling for £2,953,250 ($4,657,275).
More known for her fondness for jewellery and husbands, Elizabeth Taylor had a keen eye for art. “It’s the part of her life that nobody knew,” Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie’s, told The Guardian
. “Take the Degas: one would think she'd go for a race course or ballet scene, but she bought a very pensive early portrait. It's a very refined and academic choice – she was a proper collector, not just a buyer."
Taylor's father Francis was an art dealer, and acquired a number of paintings, including the Van Gogh, on her behalf. He represented the Welsh painter Augustus John in America, and John's paintings formed a substantial part of Taylor's collection.
The auction was not the first of Taylor’s personal effects. Time Magazine
reported the sale of her jewels broke auction records in New York last December, reaching around $116 million, and smashing the previous record for a single collection, set in 1987 by the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels.
Other works of art from different collections in this week's Christie's sale also broke the million-pound barrier, including Reclining Figure: Festival
, by Henry Moore, which sold for £19,081,250 ($30,091,131).