The Economist tells a few stories that illustrate what dealers do to add value to objects in their coverage of the Maastricht art fair, TEFAF:
- A Charles I gold medal (pictured above) was consigned for sale by the Godson family, who believed it was an ordinary honour confirming the king as “Sovereign of the Seas”. Arnold-Peter Weiss, the dealer who bought it, was able to trace the provenance of this particular medal back to William Juxon, then Bishop of London and later Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom Charles I had presented it as a keepsake. The family didn’t get much for it; Mr Weiss is asking for €950,000 ($1.3m) at Maastricht.
- Jean-Luc Baroni, a canny and knowledgeable Old Master dealer, bought a dark painting named “Ganymede” in 2009. It was by Volterranno, a 17th-century Florentine, and Mr Baroni paid a little over the top estimate, £70,000 plus commission and taxes. A careful clean has revealed the sitter as the beautiful young Florentine aristocrat, Marchese Altoviti (pictured top), dressed as Hercules’ protégé, Hylus. Further research has proven the painting to be a long-lost work for which only a drawing in the Uffizi Gallery was thought to have survived. Mr Baroni is now asking more than ten times what he paid for the picture less than two years ago.
- Daniel Katz, a London-based sculpture specialist, was excited by the two dirty pieces he saw in Drouot, the Paris auction house, in 2009. A good clean and some careful research showed that the pieces were two lost sculptures of Juno and Jupiter by Giuseppe Piamontini, another Florentine. Two smaller versions in bronze can be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, but the marble originals had been lost for 280 years. Mr Katz is asking €1.6m for the pair.
A Subdued Gathering (Economist)