Football breaches old masters but Italians triumph again


The England football team were not the only ones to be disappointed last week. The nightly sale of Old Masters by Sotheby’s in London, which coincided with England’s most successful semi-final game against Denmark, ended with a lackluster total of £ 14million (17.2 million pounds sterling with fees, or 16.7 million pounds to 24.6 million pounds). The sale featured its fair share of the first detailed Dutch paintings and also reportedly suffered from pandemic-related restrictions that prevented potential buyers from seeing these works in person.

The specialists showed courage, noting that many of the 28 out of 49 lots that sold were more expensive than expected. These included the portrait of Anthony van Dyck c1616-17 of the family of his fellow artist Cornelis de Vos, which sold for £ 2million (£ 2.4million with costs) against a presale estimate of £ 1million to £ 1.5million. The work, forcibly sold by the Dutch dealer Nathan Katz to Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Göring in 1941, was among those recovered four years later by the so-called “Monuments Men”, a special force of experts. in art. Rising Above Estimate was a high-impact grotesque portrait of a jester attributed to Quinten Massys (1466-1530), which sold for £ 420,000 (£ 523,200 with fees, or 40,000 to £ 60,000).

Leonardo da Vinci study c1480 of a bear head sold for £ 7.5million

Italy wins at Christie’s, where the highest price for this season’s sales of paintings by the great London masters went to Bernardo Bellotto, nephew of the Venetian painter Canaletto. Bellotto’s 1745-1757 View of Verona sold for £ 9million (£ 10.6million with fees, or £ 12-18million). Overall, the Old Masters auction fared better than at Sotheby’s the night before and its total of £ 37.3million (£ 45.1million with fees) exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £ 36.7-56.7million.

Leonardo stole the show of the week in a separate Christie’s auction of mixed category items called “The Outstanding Sale”. His exquisite c1480 study of a bear’s head sold for £ 7.5million (£ 8.8million with fees, or £ 8million to £ 12million), a record price for a drawing by Leonardo. Its seller, as reported in The Art Newspaper, was Thomas Kaplan, an American collector of mainly Dutch grand masters. According to the merchants present in the auction room, an American couple present at the auction placed the winning bid. Christie’s confirms that the buyer Leonardo was in the room but also “respects the confidentiality of our customers”.


Beeple’s (2021) digital “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” sold for $ 69.3 million in March © Christie’s Images Limited 2021

Hybrid art sales are here to stay, according to Christie’s Managing Director Guillaume Cerutti. In a Zoom call to mark a successful first half of 2021, he said that while the Covid-19 pandemic had been “an extremely difficult time for us,” it has also “provided the opportunity to change our business model “. The forced move online and the subsequent mix of digital and physical helped propel art sales to $ 3.5 billion, up 13% from the equivalent period before the pandemic in 2019. The total includes private sales, negotiated away from auctions, which accounted for 25 percent of the total. “Our customers don’t know how they deal with Christie’s,” Cerutti said. Highlights of the period included the decisive sale of Beeple’s digital “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” (2021), backed by NFT, for $ 69.3 million in March.

A total of 76 sales took place online only and 88 live (and broadcast live) in the first half of this year, with an auction in London drawing more than 400,000 viewers in March, Christie’s said. This digital reach has helped increase the number of Asian buyers in all countries and categories to account for 39%, or $ 1 billion, of first-half auctions, from 25% in 2019. “Buyers of the Asia-Pacific region are younger than ever, high spenders and very digitally engaged, ”said Francis Belin, president of Christie’s in the region. He also hinted at a greater physical presence in Asia, saying Christie’s was exploring options in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bangkok, Thailand.


Clyfford Still’s “PH-568” (1965) sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April for the equivalent of $ 16.2 million

Art dealer Emmanuel Di Donna will show for the first time at the Intersect Aspen art fair (August 1-5) and bring a painting by Colorado favorite, Clyfford Still, priced at $ 20-25 million. This is possibly the highest price ever recorded at the local fair, founded as Art Aspen in 2010. Di Donna’s decision highlights the importance of chic second home destinations since the Covid-19 pandemic . The exhibit in Aspen is through Di Donna’s recently launched art and design gallery in the Hamptons, Selavy, which was also shown as a pop-up at Sotheby’s Palm Beach in February. “It’s about going where the collectors are, and when they have a more relaxed schedule,” says Di Donna.

There are relatively few works by Still in private hands. The artist retired from the market during his lifetime, and when he died in 1980, the bulk of his paintings were donated to the city of Denver on the condition that they could not be sold or traded. The registered trademark of Di Donna Still abstract, “PH-568” (1965), was first purchased at the Marlborough Gallery in 1969. More recently, the work was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April for the equivalent of $ 16.2 million. Di Donna says this price point does not reflect the value of the painting, which likely missed some marketing opportunities to make way for another Still at Sotheby’s, which sold for $ 30.7 million from the collection. Anne Marion in May.

Noah Horowitz, director of the Americas at Art Basel, leaves at the end of August

Noah Horowitz, director of the Americas at Art Basel, leaves at the end of August © John Sciulli / Getty Images

Art Basel confirms that research is in the process of replacing Noah Horowitz, his respected Director of the Americas, who was responsible for the Miami Fair and who is leaving at the end of August after six years. Rumors say Horowitz is heading to an auction house, although the three main competitors – Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s – have declined to comment. Horowitz, who joined Art Basel from the New York Armory Show, said: “Right now my focus is on ensuring a smooth transition and I look forward to being in touch when there. has news to share, of which I am not free. to comment for the moment.

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