On a Buying Spree: 60 New Additions at Questroyal Fine Art AND Quick Thoughts As a Buyer, Under-bidder, and Dreamer at Last Week’s American Art Auctions
Neither the sovereign debt crisis nor a retreating stock market could temper collectors’ enthusiasm for paintings at last week’s American auctions, which, while far less sensational, were a continuation of higher price points and world records realized at the prior week’s contemporary sales. Wall Street’s never-ending machinations may be causing investors to distrust traditional financial assets in pursuit of the transparent and tangible qualities found in fine paintings.
These results did not surprise me because sales and activity at the gallery have been on the rise over the last six months. My faith in American paintings has never been greater and I have initiated an aggressive campaign to acquire more. In the last ten days, I bought 60 new paintings. Many were purchased as part of a group at discounted levels and since I have my sights set on many more I will offer great values. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. The paintings are not yet listed on our web site but I will have images sent immediately upon your request.
SELECTED NEW ACQUISITIONS
Albert Bierstadt picturesque landscape with a rainbow
Ralph A. Blakelock four exquisite small ethereal works
John G. Brown two charming genre scenes
Arthur B. Davies enchanting figures in a landscape
Sanford Gifford classic Catskills landscape
David Johnson two small-scale luminous scenes
Childe Hassam unusual watercolor depicting the Hudson River
Martin J. Heade pristine Cherokee roses
Hayley Lever six harbor and coastal views by an underrated modernist
Willard Metcalf poppy field at Monet’s house (sensational example)
Edward Moran rare sunset landscape
Thomas Moran wonderful view of the Grand Canal,Venice
Fairfield Porter panoramic Southampton landscape
Edward Potthast two works, a Maine scene and a classic beach scene
Edward Simmons colorful winter twilight scene of the Charles River
T.W. Whittredge reasonably priced Western scene
Sales room action
An analysis of the sales results will reveal a very low buy-in rate and a greater than normal number of paintings exceeding the high estimate. All of the macro indicators were positive and encouraging. Less apparent, was the depth of bidding as multiple bidders were frequently competing for the same paintings.
There were two M.J. Heade “hummingbird” paintings offered, one at Christie’s and one at Sotheby’s. They were both fine examples, but the Christie’s painting was larger, brighter and had two orchids whereas the smaller Sotheby’s work was darker and lacked the exotic flowers. The Christie’s work sold first and I bought it for $818,500, well under what similar examples have sold for in the recent past. It sold near the beginning of the sale and bidders may have been cautious as they waited to get a better sense of the market, or perhaps they felt they would have another opportunity the next day at Sotheby’s.
There were also two fine Thomas Moran Venetian views that appealed to me. The smaller view had an exceptional composition but the sky in the larger painting was irresistible. Fortunately, the smaller version was first to sell for $158,500, perhaps giving a competitor his “Moran” fix, and making it possible for me to acquire the larger piece for $146,500. Sales order often has some bearing on the sales price.
I was able to acquire several other paintings at various auctions but they were hard-fought battles.
The Mignot of Ecuador on offer at Christie’s commanded my attention. It was a very finely painted and classic example of his best work, estimated at $100,000 to $150,000. I felt confident that since I was willing to bid $200,000, my chances of owning it were quite good. The bidding was intense and I never had a chance to raise my paddle as the new owner paid $422,500.
Sotheby’s offered a superior example of Hudson River School painting by David Johnson, depicting the Hudson River itself, estimated at $300,000 to $500,000. There were some whispers that the 19th century works might be overshadowed by the modern selections, giving me some hope that perhaps I could buy it within the estimate. Proving once again that it is not wise to underestimate the appeal of America’s best landscape painters, the painting sold for $722,500.
In one of my more optimistic moments, I thought I might find a few investors to help me acquire the Hopper, Bridle Path and/or the Bellows, Tennis at Newport. They were estimated equally at $5,000,000 to $7,000,000 and I thought I could achieve near-hero status if I could buy them at the low estimate. The Hopper sold for $10,386,500 and the Bellows $7,026,500. The market once again demonstrated its strength and I am confident that I will dream again at the next sale.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss any of the new acquisitions.
—Louis M. Salerno
This entry was posted and is filed under Art Market Analysis, Lou’s Mind Un-Zipped, Questroyal Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Leave a Reply