Scott Reyburn fingers the seller of Sotheby’s dollar-themed works who has also faced some tax problems in his home country when it was discovered that he had been bringing works into Switzerland on his private plane:
The Warhols were part of a collection of 21 works in the Sotheby’s sale that used the American dollar bill as their subject. The group had been offered by a European collector identified by three dealers with knowledge of the matter as Urs Schwarzenbach, a Swiss-German former currency dealer who now lives near London. Mr. Schwarzenbach owns the Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich and is listed as the 108th wealthiest person in Britain, according to the 2015 Sunday Times Rich List. He did not respond to an email requesting confirmation that he was Sotheby’s seller.
The eight-lot group raised an aggregate £33.7 million, or $52.6 million, with fees. The most highly valued work was Warhol’s 1962 hand-painted canvas, “One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate),” estimated at £13 million to £18 million. Measuring six feet wide and, like many works in the collection, acquired from the Zurich dealer Bruno Bischofberger in the 1990s, this was the artist’s first dollar painting and the only one to have been painted by hand.
This historically important work attracted a winning telephone bid of £20.1 million. But two silk-screen paintings from the early 1960s of multiple dollar bills, with low estimates of £12 million and £5 million, respectively, both failed to sell, with buyers balking at what were perceived to be over-ambitious estimates. A small 1986 Warhol dollar bill collage that had been bought at Sotheby’s in 2006 for $156,000 sold to a single bid of £125,000 with fees, or about $195,000. This isn’t an investment banker’s idea of a decent profit.
At Art Auctions, Missed Expectations for Some Big Names (The New York Times)