Christie's held London's biggest ever art auction on Wednesday when its impressionist and modern sale fetched $228 million, but the total fell short of expectations of $245 million to $345 million.
The big disappointment on the night came when a Monet water-lily painting worth an estimated $44.8 million to $59.8 million failed to sell. Bidding reached $43.3 million.
The other top lot did change hands, however, with a Blue Period portrait by Picasso selling for $52 million. The price includes a buyer's premium.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose charity sold the painting, said he was pleased with the price, "especially in such austere times.
"This is a significant amount to devote to the Foundation's passions — architecture and the sponsorship of young talent in musical theatre."
Overall, the auction total of $228.9 million eclipsed the previous London auction record of $219.9 million set by rivals Sotheby's in February.
On Tuesday, Sotheby's sold art worth $167.5 million, toward the lower end of its range of estimates from $151 million to $221 million.
The results underlined how strongly the fine art market has recovered following a brief slump caused by the financial crisis. But they failed to match the buzz surrounding sales earlier this year when world auction records were broken twice.
"This has been a very strong week of sales, even if on some pictures the expectations of sellers were not matched to those of potential buyers," said Robert Korzinek, fine art expert at specialist insurer Hiscox.
"What is important is that we have returned to a more normal level of liquidity in the art market."
Christie's said 55 percent of the lots sold were bought by European buyers, 40 percent by buyers from the Americas and five percent from Asia.