Paintings that belonged to Elizabeth Taylor raised $21.9 million (Rs 108 crore) at an auction as investment-conscious bidders bought rare works by major-name artists.

The top lot owned by the late actress was a Vincent van Gogh painting that sold at Christie's in London for
�10.1 million (Rs 77.6 crore) with fees, beating a hammer-price estimate.

Auction-house staff members taking telephone bids were packed three deep at the sale of 88 impressionist, modern and surrealist works.

Under the hammer: A member of staff poses with the 1889 painting
by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh entitled Vue de l'Asile et de la Chapelle
de Saint-Remy that sold for Rs 77.6 crore. pic/afp

Economic volatility and decreased returns on financial investments have spurred rich individuals to buy art as an alternative asset class. Sellers are encouraged by rising prices for museum-quality works.

In December 2011, Christie's New York sold Taylor's collections of jewellery, fashion, decorative arts and memorabilia in a four-day marathon auction series.

An additional 35 works from the film star's fine art collection will be offered for sale as part of Christie's continuing sales series devoted to impressionist and modern art.

Among their number are paintings by such masters as Mir , Renoir and Magritte -- and many by celebrated British artist Augustus John, including Poppet in Black Hat, which is a painting John did of his daughter.

Past auctions of Eizabeth's possessions have seen prices skyrocket beyond their given estimates, driven by global interest in the Hollywood icon.