Forte’s Lowry Paintings May Sell for $26.2 Million at Auction

"Piccadilly Circus, London'' (1960) by the 20th century British artist L.S. Lowry. It was one of 14 works by the Lancashire-born painter formerly owned by the cater and hotelier, the late Charles Forte, that were offered by Christie's International at an auction in London on Nov. 16, 2011. It sold for 5.6 million pounds ($8.8 million). Source: Christie's via Bloomberg

A collection of paintings by L.S. Lowry formed by the U.K. caterer and hotelier, the late Charles Forte, is estimated to raise as much as 16.9 million pounds ($26.2 million) at an auction in London next month.

Lowry (1887-1976) was a Lancashire-born artist best known for his industrial scenes inhabited by crowds of stick-like figures. Forte’s descendants will be offering 14 of these paintings at Christie’s International on Nov. 16, the London-based auction house said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Piccadilly Circus, London,” is the most highly valued work in the group, estimated at 4 million pounds to 6 million pounds. It dates from 1960 and has never been offered at auction before. The 1953 oil “Fun Fair at Daisy Nook” is priced at 1.5 million pounds to 2 million pounds.

Forte bought the paintings during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Lowry continues to be a favorite name with wealthy collectors of 20th-century British art. In May, Christie’s achieved a record auction price of 5.6 million pounds for a 1949 painting, “The Football Match.”

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)