Over and over again in 21st Century market we’ve seen the extraordinary power of provenance in generating strong prices. Despite the rocky state of the Orientalist picture market–or perhaps because of it–Sotheby’s has just announced that it will be selling a Leopold Carl Müller painting A Street Scene, Cairo that was bought be William Vanderbilt weeks after it was finished in 1880. The picture stayed in the family for 65 years before being sold at Parke-Bernet. Something seems to have happened in the 64 years since then because the work was forgotten and its provenance lost until Sotheby’s specialists put the pieces together.
The painting will be sold on October 22nd in New York. It’s estimated at $600,000-$800,000. Müller’s top price was achieved last year when An Almée’s Admirers sold for $1.65m which explains the extra attention Sotheby’s devoted to this work.