Category: Auctions

Art History Futures

April 6 2011

Image of Art History Futures

Picture: AFP

A triptych by Zhang Xiaogang has sold for $9.8m in Hong Kong, setting a record price for a Chinese contemporary work of art.

If anyone thinks this is a high water mark for Chinese contemporary art, think again. It's probably just the beginning...

Murillo returns to Tyntesfield

March 27 2011

Image of Murillo returns to Tyntesfield

The National Trust has announced the return of a Mater Dolorosa by the studio of Murillo to Tyntesfield House in Somerset, where it once hung. 

The Trust bought the picture for just over $80,000 at Christie's in New York, against an estimate of $30-50,000.

22,503 times the estimate - or, why I wish I could speak Chinese

March 24 2011

Image of 22,503 times the estimate - or, why I wish I could speak Chinese

Picture: Sotheby's

Bit off beam this one, but I love these Chinese vase stories. A vase estimated by Sotheby's at $800-1,000 has sold in New York for a whopping $18,002,500. The auctioneers believed the vase to be 20th Century, but up to seven bidders saw the mark at the base and thought otherwise. 

More here. You can read the latest about the £51.6m vase sold in West Ruislip in November, here

Mid-Season sales online

March 23 2011

Image of Mid-Season sales online

Picture: Christie's. Detail of lot 60; View of the Thames at Wesminster by Gabriele Ricciardelli

The mid-season Old Master sales (traditionally where they offer the not so good stuff) have gone online. If you have the patience to navigate the tortuous 'eCatalogues', Sotheby's is here, and Christie's here. There are some nice things - check back nearer the auction date (14th April) for my pick of the sales. 

Recession? What recession?

March 15 2011

Image of Recession? What recession?

Picture: Cleveland Museum of Art

Hats off to the Cleveland Museum of Art for a really impressive piece of acquisitioning; they've just bought the above cabinet miniature by Isaac Oliver. Possibly painted for Anne of Denmark, it is one of very few large scale miniatures by Oliver to survive. 

It's not only a good buy, but a canny one. The picture was offered at Sotheby's in New York in January with an estimate of $200 - 300,000, which I felt was too high. However, it failed to sell, and presumably the museum were able to secure it for a good price post-sale. [More below]

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Koons to set new record?

March 14 2011

Image of Koons to set new record?

Picture: Sotheby's

A sculpture by Jeff Koons, Pink Panther, is set to sell for up to $30m at Sotheby's Spring Contemporary auction in New York. Sotheby's press release said:

'Representing the highest tier of Jeff Koons' artistic achievement, Pink Panther is immediately identifiable as a masterpiece not only of the artist's historical canon, but also of the epoch of recent Contemporary Art...

In Pink Panther, the display of the woman's semi-naked body is sensual. However, with the bizarrely incongruous cuddly Pink Panther toy clinging to the literal embodiment of carnal desire, Koons strikes an outrageous contrast between the competing powers of adult and childhood associations. 

The artist's painstaking selection of media is central to the conceptual project, contributing directly to the importance of the work. The terms of its execution are flawless: the contrasting textures of the porcelain surfaces are rendered in dazzlingly vivid colours that reinforce the object's artificiality, while the transparent glazes simultaneously evoke the fragility of thin glass and the ethereal nature of a reflective liquid.'

I rather like it. But if it's still worth $30m in 50 years time, I'll eat my trousers.

Optimism

March 14 2011

Image of Optimism

Picture: Peter Willott/St.Augustine Record.

Here's a strange one - a full-length portrait has gone on display at a museum in Florida because;

'...the owners have spent more than 20 frustrating years unable to sell it for what they think it is worth. By placing it at the Lightner [Museum], they hope to inspire new interest.'

The owners, one of whom is Mr Paul Partel, above, believe their portrait of Louis XVIII by Antoine-Francois Callet is 'worth millions'. However, it was offered at auction by Christie's in 1991 with an estimate of $60-80,000, before being withdrawn by Mr Partel because; [More below]

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The £100m/£20k Leonardo - its implications for auction attributions

March 10 2011

Image of The £100m/£20k Leonardo - its implications for auction attributions

There’s an interesting piece by Simon Hewitt in this week’s Antiques Trade Gazette on the Leonardo/not Leonardo drawing, above. The article isn’t online, so I can’t link to it. 

Christie’s sold the drawing for $19,000 in 1998, but recently Martin Kemp, a leading Leonardo scholar, said it was by the great master. If it’s ‘right’, some say the drawing would be worth £100m. If it isn’t, then the original valuation is probably right. There’s nothing in between. 

The picture is now the subject of a lawsuit between a previous owner, Jeanne Marchig, and Christie’s. Mrs Marchig claims that Christie’s were negligent in selling the drawing as ‘German School, 19th Century’, when in fact it was by Leonardo. However, Christie’s are sticking to their guns, and say that although Martin Kemp believes it is a Leonardo, many other scholars do not, and neither do they. [More below]

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Landseer in the Highlands

March 10 2011

Image of Landseer in the Highlands

Picture: Mallams

This small and rare landscape sketch by Landseer, estimated at £8-12,000, sold for £70,000 yesterday.

Update 20.3.11: it isn't the highlands, it's Devon apparently. I saw the picture at Maastricht. 

Epic Guardi to be sold at Sotheby's - Aristo sell-off continues

February 24 2011

Image of Epic Guardi to be sold at Sotheby's - Aristo sell-off continues

Picture: New York Times

Sotheby’s have announced a highlight of their next Old Master sale in London in July; Francesco Guardi’s ‘Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge from the Fondamenta del Carbon’. The nearly 4ft by 6ft 'about $30m' canvas belongs to the family of the 1st Earl of Iveagh.

The sale demonstrates what I have suspected for a while – that we are witnessing the last hurrah of aristocratic art disposals. The following families have recently put a number of masterpieces up for sale; the Earls of Clarendon (Van Dyck), Jersey (Van Dyck), Rosebery (Turner), Wemyss (Poussin), Spencer (Rubens), and the Dukes of Portland (Van Dyck), Rutland (Poussin) and Sutherland (Titian). Even the Duke of Westminster is selling (Claude), though why is a mystery - he hardly needs the cash… [more below]

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Going, going... Gone.

February 23 2011

Image of Going, going... Gone.

Picture: Sotheby's

Excitement is building in LA, as the Getty prepares for the arrival on 7th March of J M W Turner's masterpiece, 'Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino'.

The picture is a great loss. It belonged to the family of the Earls of Rosebery, and was sold at Sotheby's last year for £29.7m. No UK museum could hope to match the price, and none tried.

Isn't it time to look again at the whole question of acquisitions and export rules?

'Now, for the Rubens estimated at £4-6m... do I hear £1m?'

February 23 2011

Image of 'Now, for the Rubens estimated at £4-6m... do I hear £1m?'

Picture: Sotheby's

Martin Bailey of the Art Newspaper has flagged up some astonishing developments in the case of the Rubens/notRubens portrait that was stopped for export in January.

I discussed earlier the difficulties the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art must have had when deciding whether to stop the painting being exported, given the uncertainty over the attribution. Now, however, the story has taken a bizarre twist. It reveals the immense power of the single acknowledged expert, and the potential pitfalls of submitting a painting to the Reviewing Committee.

The basic facts are; [more below]

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Lost Sickert to be Sold

February 21 2011

Image of Lost Sickert to be Sold

A previously unknown work by Walter Sickert will be auctioned in London on 9th March. Blind Beggar was found in Scotland. Bonham's estimate is £40-60,000. 

Baffling Price of the Week

February 18 2011

Image of Baffling Price of the Week

Picture: Sotheby's

This self-portrait by Thomas Struth was offered at Sotheby's earlier this week. It shows Struth looking at Durer's self-portrait in the Alte Pinakothek. The photo being sold was one of a run of ten.

There was some great blurb in the catalogue:

There are many ways to interpret these museum pictures—as an exploration of the relationship between painting and photography, as critical commentary on the invasion of cultural institutions by mass tourism, or even as a twist on appropriation art. But above all, they are a meditation on the function of centuries-old art in a secular world and how contemporary audiences engage with these masterpieces as a means of interacing [sic (I think)] with history. 

It made £421,250.

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Pictures that make you smile

February 17 2011

Image of Pictures that make you smile

Picture: Galerie Koller

This is a detail from 'Friede im Land (Aufe der Bastei)', or, 'Peace - On the Fortress', by Carl Spitzweg, painted in 1856. It is being offered at Koller on 1st April. The estimate is CHF500-800,000.

"Orgy of the rich!"

February 16 2011

 

Hats off to demonstrators from 'Arts Against the Cuts', who last night staged a daring demo in the middle of Sotheby's evening contemporary art sale. The bidders gave a generous round of applause at the end.

One of the protester's slogans was an ironic; 'I like my money on the wall'. Better than in the bank...

More here.

Improbably Strong Porter Lifts Warhol

February 16 2011

Image of Improbably Strong Porter Lifts Warhol

Picture: David Rose/Telegraph

Newspapers rarely like to print photos of 'flat art', and so some poor intern is often dragged in to put on the white gloves and told to 'hold' a painting.  

The Warhol seen here has just sold for £10.8m, way above its £3-5m estimate.

Bacon & Freud continue to rise

February 12 2011

Image of Bacon & Freud continue to rise

Picture: Sotheby's

A 1952 Lucian Freud self-portrait sold at Sotheby's last night for £3.28m, beating its £600-800,000 estimate. Well worth it I'd say. Francis Bacon's triptych of Freud sold for £23m, a price that comfortably beat the $3.8m for a comparable work that sold in New York in 2003.

The pictures were part of the private collection of the late George Kostalitz.

Rare Rockwell drawing sold

February 10 2011

Image of Rare Rockwell drawing sold

A fine drawing by Norman Rockwell called 'The Plumbers' was auctioned last night in Florida. Estimated at $35,000-$45,000, it sold for $120,000 hammer. More here.

Christie's Impressionist & Modern evening sale

February 10 2011

Totaled £61.8m.

Which is just below the £68.8m made by Sotheby's evening sale. The difference may be explained by a £7-10m Gauguin that failed to sell

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