Globalization is the story the art market has been telling about itself for the last decade. But within that sometimes clichéd tale there are many chapters. Last week’s Old Masters sales in London, seems to be the beginning of a new one. Here’s Scott Reyburn on Bloomberg:
“Russians are getting into Old Masters,” the Amsterdam-based art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal said. “They’re well-advised and are buying the triple-A lots. They’re spreading their wealth by buying top-quality in any area of the market.”
With the new Russian interest, established buyers seem less interested in competing and more determined to seek out new areas, judging from what Colin Gleadell observed at the sales of drawings:
Americans were the dominant buyers at last week’s 10 million pounds Old Master and British drawings sales paying record prices for Watteau (817,500 pounds), the Italian view painter Giovani Battista Lusieri (481,875 pounds), and the 18th-century English portraitist Daniel Gardner (133,875 pounds) at Christie’s. At Sotheby’s, Americans claimed two vividly portrayed 16th-century watercolours of horses which had somehow travelled from Prague, where they are thought to have been painted, to Scotland in the 19th century where they had been passed down to the Duchess of Montrose. The more elaborate sold for a triple-estimate 485,500 pounds, while the simpler example sold for a double estimate 194,500 pounds to the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Gleadell is a dogged reporter. He stayed on the main theme, pressing Sotheby’s for more detail on their Old Masters clientele:
Sotheby’s co-chairman of Old Masters, Alex Bell, said afterwards that he thought the market had entered a new phase with this sale. Doing their homework over the weekend, Sotheby’s now estimates that in the past month, during which time they have taken nearly 290 million pounds in London, bidders from 75 different countries have registered with them. One in 6 were from Asia, Russia or the Middle East, and a similar percentage were bidding at Sotheby’s for the first time.
£9.2 million El Greco is top lot at Sotheby’s (Telegraph)