Getty buys $30.5m Gentileschi

January 29 2016

Image of Getty buys $30.5m Gentileschi

Picture: Sotheby's

The Getty museum were the triumphant buyers of Orazio Gentileschi's Danäe last night at Sotheby's. The total price after commission was $30.5m. There were at least three bidders going for the picture, though I presume one of them was the third party guarantor. Another underbidder was (I presume) an Asian collector speaking to the Chairman of Sotheby's Asia, Patti Wong. The Getty will hang the picture next to Gentileschi's Lot and his Daughters, which was originally hung next to Danäe. So, well done the Getty. There was a curious little scene after the bidding - the Getty's victorious bidder walked up to the rostrum and handed over a letter to George Wachter, the head of Sotheby's New York Old Master department. I wonder what it said.

The sale totalled $53.4m - which (says Bloomberg) was below the low estimate. It was a patchy affair, which some lots soaring away, others just squeaking by (like the newly discovered Jordaens selling at the low estimate of $4m) but almost half the lots failing to sell. I'll post a fuller analysis later on - I'm heading back to the UK today. The volatility can be put down to a few things it seems to me: first, the weather robbed Sotheby's of three days viewing time; second, the recent stock market wobbles put off more than a few collectors; and finally, though this is more long-term, I think this is what an auction market looks like when you no longer have a firm base of trade buyers ready and willing to pick up the slack. But with the Taubman pictures doing ok, and some clear strong prices across the board, it seems we can end the week knowing that the Old Master market is still alive and kicking. At a time when everyone is predicting a slowing art market across the board, this is no small thing.

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