SALES are booming at a North Yorkshire auction house, despite the second coronavirus lockdown.

Scarborough-based Fine Art Auctioneers David Duggleby say they have had bidding from as far away as Hong Kong and a huge amount of interest at both the auctions that have taken place since the introduction of the second lockdown and despite them being staged with an almost empty saleroom.

Managing Director Will Duggleby said: “The only people present in the room during these sales are the auctioneer and a clerk on the rostrum with the computer screens, plus the socially distanced team handling telephone bidding. There are no buyers in the saleroom. It is quite strange but the number of people following the auctions on line has been astonishing.”

“The Autumn Art Sale – which took place just one day after the start of this latest lockdown – pointed the way things would go. The results were amazing. Lot after lot matched or topped the most optimistic pre-sale estimates.”

The star of the show was ‘On the beach’, a painting by the Newlyn School artist Dorothea Sharpe that made £16,500, comfortably over pre-sale expectations. That was bought by one of the country’s largest art dealers but Yorkshire collectors were involved in the bidding battles for just about every lot all in a particularly good county picture section.

Two East Yorkshire collectors fought a fierce bidding battle over a remarkable series of watercolours painted by the young York artist Tom Dudley (1857-1935) depicting the backstreets of Hull in 1880 and 1881.

Three of the five paintings were once part of the private collection of the wealthy local Reckitt Family. The paintings sold for a total of £3,375, almost double pre-sale expectations.

Meanwhile it was also a Yorkshire collector who paid £9,600, top estimate, for Richard Weatherill’s atmospheric ‘Whitby Harbour with sailing vessels and steam paddle boat’, a painting that has been described as an ‘exhibition quality work by Whitby’s best artist’.

And two local collectors were involved in fierce bidding for Henry Redmore’s ‘Wreck of the Coupland’, a painting depicting the 1861 tragedy in which the Scarborough lifeboat overturned going to the aid of a South Shields schooner that had run aground in a fierce storm. A Scarborough buyer paid £6,100 for the painting, again close to top estimate.

That auction was followed by a Country House Sale that saw a beautiful late 19th century Chinese black lacquer and gilt games box make £3,100.

Mr Duggleby said: “Lockdown appears to be providing us with captive audiences both in this country and abroad. The number of people who are viewing online catalogues, making enquiries and registering to bid has massively increased.”

“We have also invested heavily in our online marketing systems. We’re extremely pleased with the way they are working and the results they are achieving. We are feeling very confident as we enter a very busy time of the year with no fewer than eight major auctions in the next few weeks covering everything from toys and jewellery to art, antiques and collectables.”