There are no less than eleven Tamara de Lempicka paintings for sale next week. The Economist takes a brief moment to look at her life and the price history behind some of her works. Though the article never explains why the painter is so popular among Hollywood actors, it does suggest that Sotheby’s has had interest from Russian and Asian buyers who have not been regular clients of the auction house.
The strongest of Mr Joop’s de Lempicka pictures are bound to do well, whatever the climate. Born, most likely, in Moscow in 1895 (though she liked to say it was Poland in 1902) to a wealthy family that emigrated, before the second world war, first to Paris, and then to California and New York, de Lempicka was glamorous, spoilt, demanding and bisexual. All of those attributes emerged in her painting. [ . . . ]
Despite being regarded by some as the finest Art Deco painter, de Lempicka does not always sell easily, and buyers should beware. Of the last 20 of her pictures offered at auction, eight did not sell at all. Some of Mr Joop’s paintings have characteristics similar to those failures. The first de Lempicka he bought, “A l’Opéra”, has something shallow about it, and may have been a mistake. “La Couronne de Fleurs II”, which was painted around 1932 and then seems to have later been reworked by the artist, has something religious about it that may not appeal to many of those looking for a recogniseable de Lempicka work.
“La Clé” is a still life, and doesn’t look like a de Lempicka at all. And “Femme à la Robe Noire”, which Mr Joop bought in 1992 for $93,100 and for which he is now asking $500,000-700,000, brings to mind the portrait of Madame Vanetos that was offered for sale in November 1998. On that occasion it carried an estimate of $250,000-350,000. The picture failed to sell. Consigned again two years later, this time with a lower estimate ($150,000-200,000), it failed again. You can have too much of a good thing.
Tubular Belles (Economist.com)