A handy Old Master investment

July 13 2012

Image of A handy Old Master investment

Picture: Galerie Koller

In their July newsletter, Old Master dealers John Mitchell highlight not only the good value of a well-sourced painting compared to modern and contemporary art, but also the investment potential:

The delectable little flower painting on copper of 1612 by Roelandt Savery [above] was bought by us at Sotheby’s in 2001 for nearly £1.8 million. The commonly-held belief that we had paid far too high a price for such a picture has just been dispelled; the owner sold it through a Swiss auction house six weeks ago for more than £3.6 m. In the light of this, one can’t help wondering what the painting will be worth in another ten, twenty or thirty years’ time. 

Everything is relative, of course, and these sums are trifling when compared to the prices being paid for modern art– at the time of writing, the sale of Munch’s pastel Scream is still very much in the headlines. The point has been made before,and bears repeating, that there is still a huge discrepancy in value between Old Masters and contemporary art; if a meaningless, repetitive Warhol screenprint can fetch millions of dollars, then on that basis a precious early flower painting from four centuries ago must be worth many times that. That this is not the case is greatly to the advantage of the true picture collector endowed with some understanding of the past and,above all, an appreciation of true craftsmanship.

Quite. Amen.

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