$34m Old Master sale in New York

January 26 2012

Image of $34m Old Master sale in New York

Picture: Christie's

There was another strong Old Master sale at Christie's New York yesterday, making £34m in total. The same sale last year made $28m. Top of the pile was Giambattista Tiepolo's Arrival of Henry III at the Villa Contarini, which sold for $5.9m, against an estimate of $4-6m. Next up were: a Gerrit Dou making $3.3m (est $1-2m); a Rearing Stallion by Van Dyck at $2.5m (est.$2.5-$3.5m); a delightful Rubens study for The Assumption of the Virgin at $2.4m (est. $2-3m); and Elizabeth Taylor's Frans Hals [above] at $2.1m (est. $700k-$1m).

I can 'exclusively reveal', as they say in the papers, that the Hals will be heading to the UK soon, as part of a private collection. It is a fine portrait, once dismissed by Hals scholars, and probably something of a bargain. There can be no doubt that it is fully autograph, and in nice condition too. Van Dyck's Stallion may also be a bargain, for it sold in London in 2008 for just over £3m. The catalogue note for the picture stated that Christie's had a financial stake in the picture, either owning it 'whole or in part'. The belief is that last time it was offered for sale the eventual buyer would not pay. The picture is an interesting case of how an awkward and recent market history can influence value. 

All prices include buyer's premium.

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