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Beating the Odds

AMRITA SHER-GIL, Untitled (Self-Portrait), 1931, oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm. 

Courtesy Sotheby's London.

With headlines cautioning about economic upheaval worldwide—as a result of bailouts in Europe, drops in commodity prices and an economic structural transition in China—the autumn auction season set off with uncertainty. But such trepidation proved to be unwarranted as auction results met, if not exceeded, auction houses' expectations.

Leading the rush of back-to-back sales was Christie's Asian Art Week (September 15–18) in New York, with nine consecutive sales that reaped a…

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