The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored made a very good price today at Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings sale, good enough to satisfy Richard Feigen the art dealer who previously expressed the feeling that he would be happy to keep owning the painting if no one met his price.
Feigen got $11.5 million for himself (he had paid £648,000 in 1982) and Sotheby’s took the rest of the $12.9 million premium price. Lindsay Pollock talked to Feigen before the sale:
“It’s a dumb thing to sell a great painting,” said Feigen, 78, in an interview before the auction. “I didn’t want to sell it.” Feigen said estate planning and the desire to establish a trust for his wife motivated the sale. “Normally I wouldn’t sell any of my paintings,” he said. “I finally succumbed.”
“The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored” (1814-1816) depicts a group of toga-clad revelers heading to a Greek temple, goat and cow in tow, against a verdant landscape. [ . . . ]
Sotheby’s approached Feigen about selling the painting last year, before the financial meltdown in the fall. He remained confident about the picture’s ability to find a buyer. “No one’s going to wake up in 10 years and decide Turner didn’t matter — even though the bubble may have burst on contemporary art,” he said.
Feigen said Sotheby’s offered him a guarantee, a secret minimum price the seller is paid regardless of the outcome. He turned it down, he said, unwilling to share the upside of proceeds.