De-accession time in Delaware (ctd.)

June 18 2014

Image of De-accession time in Delaware (ctd.)

Picture: DAM/Christie's

The Delaware Museum of Art's attempt to plug a $30m financial hole by selling pictures has started badly. Their prized Holman Hunt, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, sold at Christie's yesterday for only £2.9m (inc. premium), when it had been estimated to fetch £5m-£8m (not inc. premium). It's not often you see a reserve reduced so drastically (normally it's at or just below the low estimate) and so the museum must have been pretty keen not to have the picture back. That is of course the danger of auction selling - you're leaving everything up to what happens on one night, and if for whatever reason bidder number two doesn't show up, then a sale can fail. The DAM might have been better advised, given the precarious nature of the Pre-Raphaelite market, to try and sell the picture privately first (tho' perhaps they did try that - I don't know).

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