This commentary on the idea of a double bind guarantee employed in the sale of the Leonardo is available to AMMpro subscribers. Monthly subscriptions begin with the first month free and you are encouraged to subscribe and cancel before the first month's billing if you don't value the content.
The Art Newspaper has head-scratching story this morning. The piece is framed as a tour d'horizon of speculation about who bought the Leonardo da Vinci painting Salvator Mundi for $450m.
It opens with a self-deprecating absurdity—connecting the purchase to Vladimir Putin—but doesn't progress from there to solid ground. Speculating that Kenneth Griffin might be the buyer because he recently purchased two paintings for a similar amount of money hardly seems worth making public.
What we're left with is the strange attempt to give a not unheard of auction practice—the arrangement of cross guarantees by two frequent art sellers—a term of art that no one seems to use. Here we're referring to the article's use of the term 'double bind guarantee.'
If true, the arrangement, whereby sellers guarantee one another’s works within the same sale (effectively stabilising the auction), is “extraordinary”, says the art-market commentator Georgina Adam, the author of Dark Side of the Boom, out this month. “I’ve never heard of it. If this type of deal is common, it’s unknown to the wider market, and it only reinforces the impression that the system of guaranteeing or pre-selling work is totally opaque. It belies the myth that auctions are transparent marketplaces,” she says.
There's a melange of different ideas and issues conflated into this paragraph that are worth unpacking.
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