Colin Gleadell sets out to demonstrate the importance of artists’ estates to the market but ends up showing the value of a good dealer for an artist’s heirs. Using the example of James Clark, who represents many British artists’ estates–a number which continues to grow as a result of his success–Gleadell addresses some misconceptions about what makes a good mistake. It’s often not a previously successful artist that one wants to represent.
Often an artist’s estate is bereft of good material because they were so successful in their lifetimes. The artists Clark deals with, on the other hand, did not have a broad buying public and left a reasonable amount behind. When the works were not sold, “they were stashed away and forgotten about,” he says. “It’s a mistake to think the art they left when they died was no good because it hadn’t been sold. The residue can be extraordinary. That’s what so marvellous about estates.” […]
Clark says, “I have a responsibility set price levels, but I don’t push the prices up – the punters do.” It’s a thought echoed by Rene Gimpel, a third generation member of the Gimpel dynasty of dealers, whose gallery worked with artists Peter Lanyon, Reg Butler and Robert Adams when they were alive.
Gimpel works closely with the surviving relatives to provide them with an income. “We set the prices, and hope others will push them up,” he says.
When Adams, an abstract sculptor, died in 1984, a lot of his early wood carvings from the forties and fifties were still in his studio, and Gimpel controls their supply onto the market. Prices are still relatively modest compared to say Barbara Hepworth or Henry Moore. ‘Pierced Form,’ 1952, for instance, is a classic example and priced at £35,000.
How Artists’ Estates Add Value (Telegraph)