Sotheby’s saw a range of surprises in its Old Master drawings, Evening and Day sales; A British watercolor resource gets a big reception; Heritage Auctions sold a record $58m in comic books in 2018.
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Is That You, Mona Lisa?
Follower of Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa ($80-120k) $1.695m
During Wednesday’s Old Master drawings sale at Sotheby’s, a drawing from Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari sold for many multiples of its estimate. Experts in the field point to Rubens’s The Fight for the Standard and the fact the drawing came with a Dutch Royal provenance suggesting the bidders were chasing a potential Rubens work. Today, a copy of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa sold for $1.695m (close to 14x the high estimate.) A work attributed to Valentin de Boulogne, A Young Shepherd Wearing a Crown of Laurel Leaves sold for 10x the high estimate of $60k or $595k. Michael Sweerts, Portrait of a Boy made and unexpected $375k against an $80k high estimate. Also, this Danaë from Titian’s studio attracted strong interest to sell for more than twice the $120k high estimate or $275k.
Vigée Le Brun Sets Record for Female Old Master at $7.18m
Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Kahn ($4-6m) $7.18m
Sotheby’s Old Master Evening sale made $52.7m with Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Kahn setting a record for a female artist “before the modern era,” as Sotheby’s put it. Most of the works in the sale sold within the estimate range. But one still life by Pieter Claesz., guaranteed by a third party and Sotheby’s itself having an ownership interest, attracted strong interest that drove it to $2.5m or nearly three times the $900k high estimate. A panel by Taddeo Gaddi depicting St. Anthony Abbot sold for $2m over a $1.2m high estimate.
Among the other notable works were Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael’s A Banquet of the Gods sold for just a hair below $6m. Jan van de Cappelle’s maritime scene sold for a sturdy $4.8m; Orazio Gentileschi’s The Fall of the Rebel Angels made $3.25m; and Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s floral still life made $3m.
The World of Watercolors … Preserved
We have lift-off! The Watercolour World launched today at the @royalacademy. Thank you to everyone who has helped to get it off the ground. This is just the beginning of our project to make the world’s watercolour collection available to everyone. https://t.co/CtjSXKmfnW pic.twitter.com/l9Zwn3nlqD
— The Watercolour World (@watercolour_tww) January 31, 2019
It’s rare to see such a successful launch but today the world learned of a new repository of watercolor images. It was pitched in The Art Newspaper as a resource for measuring the depredations of climate change and in the Financial Times as
- ”a not-for-profit initiative founded by Fred Hohler, a former British diplomat, has launched a free website with 80,000 watercolour images from 1750 to 1900 — and called for private collections to record their works on the site before these fragile and often undervalued paintings are lost.”
Heritage Sold a Record $58m in Comics in 2018, Up 32%
Heritage Auction has announced that it sold a record $58m in comic books, animation and comic art last year. That was a 32% increase over the previous record year of 2017. The auction house began holding sales in this category 17 years ago. As Co-Founder James Halperin explains, the sales have an astonishing 99% sell-through rate. What’s more, although there have been sales of Frank Frazetta art work for as much as $1.79m, the category has grown across the board through Heritage’s weekly sales approach. Or, has Halperin puts it, we “were fortunate that the results were not top-heavy.”
On the other hand, Halperin cautions that the weekly sales approach is anything but a bargain bin: “The days of Heritage Auctions’ weekly auctions offering lower-value lots exclusively are over. We average about 800 lots per week, and it no longer is a rarity for some lots to crack the five-figure plateau. Our collectors know the value that exists in many of the offered materials, some of which are fresh-to-the-market personal collections. So while there always are outstanding deals to be had for collectors of all levels, our weekly auctions now include many exceptional items, which routinely set new price records.”
Working off these numbers from Halperin, the average lot price for a comic book is now around $1400 making these valuable collectibles.