There’s a lot of dour pessimism in James Tarmy’s preview of this week’s Old Master sales. But this offering in Sotheby’s February London Evening sale suggests there might be ways to bring the Contemporary collector who dominates the art market these days back toward the Old Master market. Warhol’s Cranach is estimated at 800,000 to 1.8m pounds.
“These hedge fund guys are not going to buy Old Master paintings, even if they hear prices are a fraction of contemporary art,” Feigen said. “How will it hang in some loft in lower Manhattan?”
Not all dealers are so dismissive but the key to driving growth in the Old Master market will be to generate interest from the so-called new markets:
“We see buyers as mostly Americans or European,” Henry Zimet, president of Old Masters gallery French & Co. in New York, said about sales in the category. “We’ve had some contact with Russian and Chinese collectors, but no business.”
Contrast that with this statement from Sotheby’s doyen of the Old Master market, George Wachter, made to Artnet News:
“It’s become a very international market place over the last five to six years. We definitely feel it very strongly on the high end with a whole new group of buyers from China and Russia. They seem to appeal to a lot of people since the pricing is far more reasonable than in other areas.”
It is entirely possible that the auction houses, with their enormous global footprint, have contact with the kinds of new buyers that the dealers cannot or do not reach simply because these new buyers don’t attend the same art fairs and never walk into a gallery.
Brueghel, Tiepolo, Reubens at Sotheby’s Old Master Sales.(Artnet News)