The eagerly anticipated Old Masters paintings auction, conducted separately at international auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's, fetched over $120 million in sales, with certain pieces of art selling for more than $4 million each.

The sale, on Thursday, generated more than $60 million; the highlights included artworks by the Venetian painter Canaletto and the German Renaissance painter, Lucas Cranach the Elder. Wednesday's auction, on the other hand, set a record for the highest result for an auction, in this category, at Sotheby's New York since 1998; a total of $5.6 million was generated and special lots for sale included an Italian Renaissance-era Portrait of a Young Man attributed to Piero del Pollaiuolo.

We are pleased with the results of this week's sale, which again demonstrated that works of high quality and condition that are fresh to the market continue to bring exceptional prices - evidenced by each of the top ten works in our auction achieving over $2 million, said George Wachter, Co-Chairman of Sotheby's Old Master Paintings Department, and Christopher Apostle, Head of Sotheby's Old Master Paintings Department in New York.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Christie's sold $51.8 million worth of art, including commissions. The total was up from $21 million last year. A major attraction at the Christie's event was Frans Hals' Portrait of a Gentleman, Half Length, in a Black Coat, which was from the private collection of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor.

The artwork, which once hung in the bedroom of the actress' Bel Air home, sold for $2.1 million, more than twice pre-sale estimates, which stood at $1 million.

Apart from private collectors, the sale was also marked by institutional buying. The Portrait of a Gentleman was purchased by Washington's National Gallery of Art for $1.5 million and the earlier mentioned Portrait of a Young Man by California's J. Paul Getty Museum.