Ian Craft’s collection of British watercolors set several records last week when it was sold at Sotheby’s. But high prices don’t always mean good returns to collectors. Craft knew what he wanted and was willing to pay whatever he was needed to secure those works. When he sold, Colin Gleadell reports, those prices hampered his returns–if not his enjoyment of the works while he owned them:
Craft frequently paid record prices for what he wanted, regardless of estimates, and his returns were mixed. The Cozens performed best realising a compound growth rate of 14 per cent per annum, which is exceptional by any standards. The Wright of Derby drawing, however, was bought 10 years ago for £234,500, and realised an annual growth rate of just 2.9 per cent. Other works saw no increase at all.
British Watercolours Sales Sets New Records (Telegraph)
Colin Gleadell goes in-depth at the Sotheby’s single-owner watercolor sale where Ian Craft, a fertility doctor, sold off his collection of wonders. David Thomson, he of the record-setting Rubens several years ago, was buying in bulk:
The sequence of records was prefaced with a dramatically lit 1766 drawing of a boy reading, by Joseph Wright of Derby, which sold near its higher estimate to St James’s art dealer Novella Baroni, for £313,250 – the second highest price for a work on paper by the artist. Five lots later, a key player made his entrance when, bidding through an agent in the room, Canadian billionaire collector Baron David Thomson of Fleet homed in on a rare drawing by Richard Wilson, the influential landscape painter. The estimate for the 1754 drawing of the Villa Borghese in Rome was high, at £100,000 to £200,000, but Thomson rose to the challenge, buying it for a record £109,250.
Then came the fireworks. Continue Reading
The BBC reports on the success of three out of four L.S. Lowry paintings in Sotheby’s 20th C British Paintings sale:
The Street Brawl sold to the highest bidder for £657,250 – more than £100,000 over its estimated price. Street Scene with Mill fetched £397,250 and Man Walking went for £145,250. However, a fourth work – A Protest March – failed to sell. It had been valued at £300,00 to £500,000.
Three LS Lowry Artworks Sell for £1m (BBC News)
The New York Observer has an odd tale of an upstate New York handyman who decided to sell a British painting at Sotheby’s and flew to London to watch the auction. The owner of the painting, who happens to have been Susan Sontag’s son, claims the work was stolen. If it was, the thief was brazenly foolish to have used Sotheby’s to sell the work–and to attend the sale himself–especially when the work brought $47,000.
Mr. Hoffman decided to attend the auction to see what fruit his painting might bear. With his 70-year-old mother beside him, Mr. Hoffman flew to London to watch as the 18th-century portrait, which documents would later show had been owned by Mr. Rieff’s father since 1970, was auctioned off.Continue Reading