Overall, the Dutch schools dominated. No fewer than seven paintings by Pieter Breugel the Younger, drawn on to the market by the high prices paid recently for his work, sold for some £13 million.
Why is this important? Besides the fact that it shows signs of a market that has been left for dead with repeated claims there were no works worth buying left in private hands, the market strength in this lower-priced, non-master works bucks the trend in other markets where only the best of the best sells at all, let alone for high prices.
Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn offered an explanation for what might be going on. There’s a disintermediation taking place in the Old Master market as collectors increasingly rely on their own judgment buying directly at auction instead of waiting for the superior knowledge of a dealer to validate the work and the price:
“It’s a whole new market from what it was 10 years ago,” the London-based adviser Hector Paterson said. “Private collectors are buying the best things at auction, making it too expensive for dealers to buy for stock.”
If you’re looking for a quick backgrounder on Breughel, you can start with Kelly Crow’s 2009 piece from the Wall Street Journal’s magazine, WSJ.
Old Masters of Vim and Vigour (Telegraph)
Auction Surprise as Sea Scene Tops Art at Sotheby’s (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)