Colin Gleadell outlines some of Old Master failures last week in New York as tastes shift and the market loses critical mass:
one of the last paintings by Hans Memling in private hands was just too highly estimated at $6 million to find a buyer. A similar fate met a rare painting by the 16th-century mannerist Arcimboldo. Depending on which way up you hang it, it is either a still life of fruit, or a portrait. It sold 10 years ago for $1.4 million, and no one was prepared to meet the new $3 million estimate.
In some cases, sellers who were simply trying to get their money back were disappointed, perhaps because they had paid too much. In 2006, one had paid a record £825,000 – 10 times the estimate – for a still life by the 17th-century Dutch painter Simon Luttichuys. The next year, it appeared at the Maastricht art fair with a $4 million price tag; last week it went unsold with a $1.8 million estimate.
Art sales: $4.1m Martini stirs market (Telegraph)