Sometimes a silly news story uncovers a much more interesting story. We have William Poundstone to thank for that today. Poundstone looked past the over-saturated, under-examined coverage of the Santa Monica Rembrandt to ask some straight-forward art market questions. Who was the “Rembrandt” drawing stolen from and why do we think it is a Rembrandt?
Today’s L.A. Times notes that “Several Rembrandt experts contacted by the Times were unfamiliar with the piece.” At best, that would consign The Judgment to the ranks of the not-yet-rediscovered Rembrandts. […] The stolen drawing is owned by the Linearis Institute. Take a look at their website. They call themselves a “public repository for the visual arts specializing in works on paper,” yet many or all of the works are for sale. The alleged Rembrandt was for sale. […] Finally, there’s the $250,000 price that appears in every news story. If anything, those who have lost an artwork tend to exaggerate its value. No dealer would want to release to the press a value that’s anything less than the most optimistic, pre-negotiation asking price. But $250,000 isn’t much for a Rembrandt. […] This January, at Sothebys, a very early (1629) study for Judas Returning the Thirty Pieces of Silver sold for $772,500.
Is That Stolen/Recovered Rembrandt for Real? (LACMA On Fire)