The UK press is poking fun at the Earl of Spencer stirring up doubts about the Rubens he just sold at Christie’s. But the Guardian finds another trend piece to conjure with: the UK’s treasures are being treated as assets to be maximized:
The Marquess of Lothian, the Earl of Jersey and the Earl of Wemyss and March have all put substantial works up for sale in recent weeks and last month a £10m bronze by Pierino da Vinci, nephew of Leonardo, was sold from the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth estate to the Prince of Liechtenstein.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, believes the aristocratic fire sale is “a combination of a difficult economic climate for owners plus a buoyant art market at the top end – an unusual combination”.
Auction house experts have noticed that, while such sales are normally prompted by the need to fund death duties or to finance a divorce, owners of stately homes now commonly regard works of art as an asset to be deployed and not as part of their historic legacy.