Category: Discoveries

Rockwell painting found on US Roadshow

June 6 2011

Image of Rockwell painting found on US Roadshow

Picture: SodaHead.com

Norman Rockwell's Little Model has surfaced on the US version of the Antiques Roadshow. The picture was painted in 1919 for the cover of Collier magazine, but had been in a private collection since. The value given was $500,000.

'Now, lot 32 - the really rubbish fake. Do I hear €500k?'

June 1 2011

Image of 'Now, lot 32 - the really rubbish fake. Do I hear €500k?'

Picture: Der Spiegel

German police have smashed a highly succesful forgery racket. Believed to be Germany's largest ever forgery scandal, the victims included Hollywood actor Steve Martin, and Christie's. 

The above painting, 'Landscape with Horses', was sold as a genuine work by Heinrich Campendonk at Christie's in 2006 for €500,000. (I would link to it on their website, but, mysteriously, the lot has been removed). It had in fact been knocked up by Wolfgang Beltracchi, and his accomplice Otto Schulte-Kellinghaus. They had been producing high-quality fake modern and contemporary art since 2001, and possibly earlier. From Der Spiegel:

The accused allegedly attributed almost all of the forged works to artists from the first half of the 20th century, including Campendonk, Max Pechstein, Fernand Léger, Max Ernst and others. Most of the works were sold with now 60-year-old Beltracchi's story that they were part of the art collection of Cologne businessman Werner Jägers, who was the grandfather of the two female suspects in the case. Jägers was said to have bought the works from the renowned art dealer Alfred Flechtheim and hidden them on his estate in the Eifel Mountains of western Germany during the Nazi years. Schulte-Kellinghaus allegedly used a similar ruse, claiming the paintings, which were supposedly lost, originated from the collection of his grandfather, the master tailor Knops from Krefeld.

I've often heard it said that buying modern and contemporary art is a safer investment than old masters, because there are never any doubts over authenticity. But, alas, that's a load of old phooey. And it's practically impossible to fake an old master.

New date for 'Leonardo?' court case

May 30 2011

Image of New date for 'Leonardo?' court case

 

The case of Marchig vs. Christie's returns to court on 24th June.

The dispute involves the drawing, above, sold in 1998 by Christie's as 19thC German School for $19,000. A subsequent owner now claims it is by Leonardo, and worth $100m. Unsurprisingly, the vendor at Christie's, Jeanne Marchig, has been trying to take Christie's to court. But she has so far lost her case because the relevant statute of limitations in New York (6 years) has expired. 

Marchig has sought leave to appeal the limitations decision. If she wins, then the far more difficult case of is it or is it not a Leonardo will come before the court. And since at the last count an impressive array of scholars do not think it is by Leonardo, who knows where we'll end up. For a fuller discussion on the case's implications see here.

And if you're really keen, the case is being heard at 2pm, 500 Pearl Street, in the Ceremonial Courtroom, 9th floor.

On the joys of being an art dealer

May 27 2011

Image of On the joys of being an art dealer

 

The recession may continue to throw up challenges for art dealers - some say that this year’s European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht was pretty gloomy - but there is still plenty of fun to be had 'in the trade'.

For me, the most exciting part of art dealing is that you never know where the fickle of finger of fate might point you, be it the pictures you encounter, or the people you meet.

Every week I look at hundreds of paintings for sale around the world, and though much of it is little better than the stuff you find on the railings outside Hyde Park, probably at least one will be worth buying. [More below]

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Depression art discovery

May 25 2011

Image of Depression art discovery

Picture: AP/Gallup Independent

Here's a curious coincidence - two days ago I mentioned the exhibition in Oklahoma of paintings funded by Roosevelt's Public Works of Art Project, part of the New Deal.

Now, another work funded by the programme has apparently been found by construction workers in the roof of Gallup City Hall, New Mexico.

What is most interesting about the picture, by Eliseo Rodriguez, is that it isn't very good. I suppose there will always be a quality control issue if the state suddenly commissions thousands of paintings all at once. Arguably, though, the bad pictures commissioned by Roosevelt's programme tell us more about the era than the good ones.

Another happy ending

May 24 2011

Image of Another happy ending

A triptych stolen from Italy and bought by the Speed Museum in Kentucky in 1973, has been returned to its owners.

The picture, thought to be by Jacopo da Casentino (d.1358), was one of 14 works of art stolen in a raid on an Italian Villa, now thought to be worth $33m. The Speed Museum paid $38,000 for it, unwittingly, and has no insurance to cover the loss.

Ever heard of Jasper Cropsey?

May 17 2011

Image of Ever heard of Jasper Cropsey?

Picture: New York Times

If you've got a pair of seemingly innocuous 19thC American landscapes you think are worth a few hundred dollars max, as the owner of the above did, then swot up on him quick. The pair made $840,000 in New York State last Sunday.

More here.

In the basement

May 9 2011

Image of In the basement

Picture: Victoria & Albert Museum

I said recently that I would post the occasional ‘in the basement’ story, to highlight the risks of deaccessioning. Tomorrow (Tuesday), I will be a panelist at a conference on deaccessioning at the National Gallery, London. Speakers include Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP, Chairman of the National Trust Sir Simon Jenkins, and the director of the National Gallery Dr. Nicholas Penny. My panel is at the end of the day, in the dying-for-a-drink slot.

I suspect most of the day will be spent debating whether deaccessioning is a good or a bad thing – but the fact is that the process has begun. A large number of regional and local authority controlled museums in Britain are already selling off works.

Above is a painting in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. It is catalogued on their website as ‘attributed to Joseph Highmore’, but is undoubtedly by Andrea Soldi. (See J. Ingamells: ‘Andrea Soldi—a Check List of his Work’, Walpole Soc., xlvii (1980), pp. 1–20 for other comparable examples.)

Who's Soldi, you might ask? True, he’s not a well-known artist, and it’s a not a particularly exciting painting  (and nor am I suggesting that the V&A would ever sell it). But the point is that you can’t decide to sell something until you know what you have to sell. There are many similar mis-catalogued paintings in museum basements across the country. And we need to have a structure in place to make sure no unfortunate mistakes are made. [More below]

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Watch a sleeper sell

May 4 2011

 

Here's a fascinating video of a potential sleeper being sold at auction in Paris. The painting, titled Cinq Personnages de la Comedie Italienne, was catalogued as 'circle of Watteau', with an estimate of EUR 40-60,000. It sold for EUR 1m, excluding buyer's premium. 

Here is the original cataloguing. The central figure related to a drawing by Antoine Watteau, but there was also speculation it could be by Jean-Baptiste Pater. Doubtless it'll surface again, and I'll put news of it here if it does. 

Stolen Goya & El Greco recovered

April 18 2011

Image of Stolen Goya & El Greco recovered

Police in Spain have recovered two pictures by El Greco (La Anunciacion, detail above), and La Aparaicion de la Virgen del Pilar by Goya. They had been missing since the late 1990s.

More here. If I can find better photos, I'll put them up.

'The one that got away' - a newly discovered Rothko at Christie's

April 13 2011

Image of 'The one that got away' - a newly discovered Rothko at Christie's

Christie's will offer a previously unknown painting by Mark Rothko on May 11th, proving that you can even make discoveries with modern art. 'Untitled No.17', painted in 1961, was bought directly from the artist, and had never been heard of or seen since:

“It’s one of the very few that got away,” said David Anfam, London-based art historian and the author of “Mark Rothko: The Works on Canvas.” “It went to a private collection soon after it was made and those collectors just kept a very low profile.”

The estimate is $18-22m. More here. Earlier this year, another newly discovered work by Andy Warhol made $17.4m. Sod finding lost Old Masters - I need to make find me one of these lost modern things. 

Eisenhower speech on saving art in WW2 found

April 1 2011

Image of Eisenhower speech on saving art in WW2 found

Picture: AP

'Ike' was no orator, but this newly discovered speech is well worth a listen. It relates Eisenhower's rationale behind his decision to help save the thousands of works of art looted by the Nazis. 

We've been researching the work of Ike's 'Monuments Men' (those who helped find the stolen art) for our new BBC1 series, Fake or Fortune. We all have a lot to thank them, and Eisenhower, for.

The real lost Picasso?

March 27 2011

Image of The real lost Picasso?

Police in Turkey have seized a painting being touted as a 'lost Picasso' stolen from the Kuwait National Museum in 1990 by Iraqi forces.

However, this tale seems strikingly familiar to an attempted con in 2009, when Iraqi police seized a similarly described painting (illustrated above) being offered for $10million. There are in fact no records of the Kuwait National Museum losing such a picture, and nothing like it is listed with the Art Loss Register.

Is this the artworld equivalent to those 'you've won the Nigerian lottery' emails?

More optimism

March 24 2011

Image of More optimism

The Daily Mail reports:

 A man who bought a painting because he 'liked the frame' and then stored it in his attic ever since has been stunned to discover it could be a £40m masterpiece.

Auctioneers have examined the painting thought to bare the signature of renowned French post-impressionist master, Paul Cezanne.

If it is proved to be authentic, it will be the earliest known work to have been created by the painter and could be worth a fortune, experts claim.

'It wasn't until I was reading an art book [the owner said] that I started to compare it to Cezanne and then I carefully unravelled it so I could see the markings. I realised that I could be looking at the first-ever Paul Cezanne painting.'

'I'll be keeping it very safe until an expert can confirm what I believe.'

I fear he may be keeping it safe for a long time...

Better photo of that new Van Dyck

March 22 2011

Image of Better photo of that new Van Dyck

Picture: RASF, Madrid

A slightly better image of the newly discovered Van Dyck I mentioned earlier

Van Dyck discovered in Spain

March 18 2011

Image of Van Dyck discovered in Spain

This is exciting - a lost painting by Van Dyck appears to have been found in the stores of a Spanish Museum. The Virgin and Child Adored by Penitent Sinners is in the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. 

The news reports are sketchy and describe the painting as 'previously unknown'. I see from the 2004 catalogue raisonne, however, that there was a reference to a similarly titled work in the Spanish Royal Collection in 1681, so perhaps this is it. There is another version in the Louvre (below), in which the central penitent figure holds a different position. In 2004, Horst Vey described the Louvre version as being in bad condition. Perhaps the newly discovered version is in better shape - certainly, the hands and face of the central figure are more compelling than in the Louvre version. 

I've asked the Academy of San Fernando for a better photo - I'll put it up here if I get it.

Some gems amongst the crowds at Maastricht

March 18 2011

Image of Some gems amongst the crowds at Maastricht

It was a mistake to go to the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht on the opening day - too many people. If you happened upon a swarm of freeloaders around a canape tray, it actually became impossible to move. 

Still, there were some fine pictures on display. Jack Kilgore had what I thought was the discovery of the fair, a work by the young Rubens. [More below]

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Geschlossen

March 7 2011

Image of Geschlossen

Picture: Tate.

Greetings from Berlin, where I've come for the day to see a painting. Sadly, all the major galleries are geschlossen on Mondays, so there's not much art historical to report. I'm now at the airport, wondering if the implausibly cheap little chunks of 'Berlin Wall' on offer are real. Probably not.

In other news, the world's most expensive painting has gone on display at Tate. Naturally, it's a Picasso. I'm glad they've organised some half plausible art handlers for the photo-op - but I wouldn't recommend trying to hang your own $100m painting whilst standing on a ladder...

A new Mabuse?

March 2 2011

Image of A new Mabuse?

A reader has kindly sent me this image, which is an old photo of a painting stolen from a Croatian monastery in 1972. The Madonna and Child was believed by the Franciscan monks of Dubrovnik to be by Mabuse, or Jan Gossart, the star of the National Gallery's new show.

Of course, it is impossible to tell at this distance, but the painting is certainly Mabuse/Gossart/Gossaert-like. The composition is similar to that seen in the c.1520 Mauritshuis/Rijksmuseum Virgin and Child with the Veil, which is no.10 in Maryan Ainsworth's splendid new monograph.

The features and drapery in the Dubrovnik picture seem rather hard, and the pattern was quite widely copied. Nonetheless, it is worth a closer look - so if you know where it is, pray tell...  [More Below]

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'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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