The Dealer's Eye Results

June 25 2020

Image of The Dealer's Eye Results

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Dealer's Eye sales at Sotheby's ended today after 7 days worth of online bidding.

The results are a mixed bag. The London leg of the sale made £1.03m with roughly 48% of lots sold, and the New York leg of the sale made $1.78m with roughly 57% of lots sold.

Several impressive results were achieved, including a landscape by Caspar Wolf that made $250,000 over $100k-$150K; a bird of prey by Carstian Luyckx that made $100,000 over $25-$35k; a picture by Hendrick van Cleve III that made $93,750 over $50k-$70k; a religious picture by Luigi Garzi that made $50,000 over $20k-$30k; a Turner sketch that made £25,000 over £12k-£18k. This extremely fine John Robert Cozens, a picture that might not immediately be considered the most commercial image, made a respectable £150,000. I can't for the life of me understand why this lovely unfinished self-portrait by John Hamilton Mortimer failed to sell.

Overall, these two sales represented a very bold and brave experiment that was worth pursuing during the uncertain times that we are in.

The artworks and dealers involved are all of the highest calibre. It may therefore be a little surprising why the sale didn't do better. Why was this? Firstly, the art market tends to react well to pictures that are considered 'fresh onto the market'. This is particularly the case where incorrectly catalogued 'sleepers' are involved. It is therefore sometimes difficult to shake off the idea that such collaborations represent 'stock-sales', however fine the pictures might be. Many collectors may well have encountered these pictures at several fairs too.

The estimates overall seemed reasonable, yet, it is clear from previous online sales that works that bear the lowest estimates always manage to tempt lots of bidders. No one can resist a good bargain, even in the world of old masters it seems.

One interpretation might be that dealers are struggling during these unprecedented times and auction houses far less so. Let's hope that both manage to survive intact after the worst of the virus crisis is over.

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