Lindsay Pollock has been doing her homework. Seeing the symbols in Christie’s Impressionist and Modern sale catalog that identify lots with a financial interest, she tracked down the seller through porous dealer information network. Jerome Fisher made a fortune selling shoes with his Nine West Group. In 2004, he got in on the late Picasso craze early by winning “Mousquetaire a la pipe” for $7.2 million.
But Fisher’s name is on a list of Madoff victims and his painting is for sale Wednesday night. Pollock has two dealers who confirm Fisher’s identity–no doubt they were offered the picture but didn’t want to pay what Fisher wanted or needed. Pollock concludes:
Fisher isn’t taking a gamble with the slumping art market. He made a financial arrangement with Christie’s, according to the auction catalog, that provides him with either a guaranteed amount of money regardless of the outcome of the sale, or an advance loan secured by the painting. The amount is not known.
Christie’s confirmed that a third party is backing the deal but declined to disclose the name. This is the only painting in the 50-lot sale with any guarantee, indicating how fervently Christie’s wanted it for auction.
But the reasoning here may be backward. One of those dealers–or perhaps yet another–was willing to offer a third party guarantee if the work didn’t sell. Christie’s was happy to sell the work for its commission and Fisher preserved the option of making a little more money if the sale benefits from the excitement around the Gagosian show.