The last known work to be accepted as a Vermeer has suddenly appeared on display in a small museum in Hampton Roads, VA. The Chrysler Museum is now exhibiting the work that seems to have found its way into a private New York collection after reputedly being bought by Steve Wynn in 2004 for what now seems like small beer:
“Young Woman” came up for auction in 2004. Sotheby’s included a 22-page illustrated essay, far longer than the usual catalog entry. Sotheby’s offered the piece with an estimated price of $5.4 million. The painting brought $30 million, a record for the artist. It had been 83 years since the previous auction of a Vermeer work. This work may be the last Vermeer to be put up for auction. The rest are in public collections, and they tend to stay there.
As usual, the buyer’s name was not released. But word soon spread: Steve Wynn, Las Vegas casino mogul, had added the work to his burgeoning collection. Wynn held onto the painting for four years, then sold it privately. The work turned up at the Metropolitan Museum in December 2009. Then it surfaced May 19 at the Chrysler Museum of Art, in a gallery just off Huber Court featuring other Dutch paintings from that period. The painting, on view through Jan. 1, is labeled as from a private New York collection.
Last month, Hennessey explained how the Chrysler nabbed the painting. “The connection came through one of our trustees, Linda Kaufman, who knows the collector personally and approached him on our behalf.” Kaufman said she wouldn’t name the owner. Wheelock said he knew the collector, too, but wasn’t talking. The Chrysler has not ballyhooed its coup. A sign in Huber Court reads “VERMEER” and points to that gallery. A members newsletter wrote of its appearance, but the museum’s website does not promote the painting. Wheelock lectured to members in June, and a family day on Saturday also is keyed to Vermeer.
Only Around 35 Vermeers Are Known to Exist. Could This Be Number 36? (HamptonRoads.com)