Constable 'sells for £22.4m'

July 3 2012

Image of Constable 'sells for £22.4m'

Picture: BG

Good news that Christie's set another record price for a British painting. There were lots of TV cameras at the sale (above). The price matches the record for Stubbs' Gimcrack. Now this may or may not be a coincidence, for both pictures were estimated at £20m-£25m, and both were guaranteed before the sale by an undisclosed third party. A bid at the lower estimate of £20m plus buyer's premium comes to £22.4m. The Stubbs sold to the guarantor - so in that case it is almost certain that the price the buyer actually ended up paying was not in fact £22.4m (to find out how the system works, click here).

So has the same happened tonight with the Constable? Who knows. I suspect it has (and it should be noted that before the sale the auctioneer announced that the guarantor would indeed be bidding on the painting, and would recieve a 'funding fee' for doing so - for which read, 'a discount'). Obviously, if the guarantor is the buyer of the Constable, then treat those 'Constable sells for £22.4m' headlines with caution. And ask yourself whether, if Christie's was a bank and the prices that pictures realised were as crucial as, say, setting the Libor rate, people might be slightly puzzled by all this.

Update: Christie's have confirmed that the guarantor was indeed the buyer. 

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