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Lowry painting may fetch up to £6m

A Lowry painting of London's bustling Piccadilly Circus, part of hotel tycoon Lord Forte's collection for almost three decades, could fetch up to £6 million when auctioned for the first time.

The artwork dating back to 1960 depicts the fountain topped by Eros in a different spot to its present location while red buses and scurrying figures abound.

It heads a list of 14 Lowry works from the collection of Lord Forte, most of which have been in the late collector's hands for decades.

LS Lowry is most famous for the matchstick figures he painted against a backdrop of northern mill towns. But he painted two images of Piccadilly Circus, just months apart. The earlier one - measuring 20 inches by 24 inches - set a new record price for the artist in 1998, fetching £562,500.

The work to be sold by Christie's next month - as part of what is claimed to be the most important group of Lowry works to come to auction - is 30 x 40 and estimated at between £4 million and £6 million.

If it fetches its upper estimate, it would set a new world record price for the artist's work. The current high of £5.6 million is for The Football Match, set earlier this year.

His Piccadilly painting features ads for Coca Cola, Bovril, Max Factor, Gordon's Gin and Wrigleys on the famous hoardings overlooking the junction.

Another highlight of the sale is Fun Fair At Daisy Nook from 1953, depicting a Good Friday celebration for Lancashire mill workers. It is expected to go for up to £2 million. The sale also includes Saturday Afternoon, dating back to 1941, with figures enjoying themselves - playing football and cycling - at the weekend in front of an imposing factory building.

Lord Forte, who died in 2007, built up his worldwide leisure empire after opening a milk bar on London's Regent Street in 1935, at the age of 26.

The works will be auctioned at the 20th Century British & Irish Art Sale on November 16.

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