Christie's Results

July 31 2020

Image of Christie's Results

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The results are in for the recent Old Master Paintings sales, which also include sculpture and some decorative works of art it should be noted.

The 'Classic Art Evening Sale' realised £21,157,250 (inc. fees). The Old Master pictures contributed £9,849,000 to this figure which is roughly 46.55%.*

Their online Old Master Paintings & Sculpture sale realised £3,135,000 (inc. fees) with approximately 64.33% of lots sold.**

The 'Remastered: Contemporary Art and Old Masters' sale realised £2,549,500 (inc. fees). Old Master pictures contributed £1,255,000 which represents roughly 49.22% of the total.

The top lot old master, a portrait of a Lady by Rubens, came in just below the low estimate and made £3,965,250 (inc. fees). The real star of the sale was a fifteenth century Burgundian portrait of a man that made £1,631,250 (inc. fees) over an estimate of £400k - £600k. Considering the universal admiration it received on various commentaries I've read, it seemed obvious that it would smash past its temptingly low estimate. Although I didn't include it within the above tally, this very fine marble Death of Lucretia Attrb. to Antonio Lombardo smashed through its estimate to realise £3,724,750 over its £500k - £800k estimate.

The online 'day sale' also saw some rather impressive prices. The first lot, another Burgundian portrait, made £137,500 over its £5k - £8k estimate; the former Kimbolton Castle Charles I made a respectable £112,500 over its £50k - £80k estimate; A portrait of Henry Nassau-Breda made £81,250 over its £5k - £8k estimate; An early portrait of Henry VIII made £75,000 over its £25k - £35k estimate; and finally a curious Tuscan School oil on alabaster made £187,500 over its £7k - £10k estimate.


It seems fair to suggest that Sotheby's managed to get ahead of Christie's in this season's Old Master Paintings duel. Obviously, it comes down to the fact that they seemingly managed to secure the most attractive paintings with estimates that proved attracted to bidders. Securing the Rembrandt Self Portrait, arguably the greatest marketing 'splash' of the season even if it didn't soar as people expected it to, must have helped.

These prices are still remarkable, especially considering the times in which we live. I am not by any means an economist, so I'll leave it to others to make comments on whether increasing numbers of investors are flocking to art for safety during these turbulent times.

I will watch with great anticipation to see what other masterpieces resurface in the coming months. Strong currents and tides usually deposit all sorts of curious treasures onto the shores. We'll wait and see if it has the same effect on the art market.

* Note - this sale contained no modern art, hence a like for like comparison with the 'Rembrandt to Richter' sale isn't entirely appropriate.

** - This is an approximate number as Christie's remove unsold lots from their online platform.

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