Old Master Paintings Realize $101.5 Million at Sotheby’s

LONDON – Sotheby’s sale of Old Master Paintings totaled £51,488,650 /$101,530,469/ €64,813,991 well in excess of the pre-sale estimate of £30.2-44.2 million. In a sale that attracted bidders from across the globe, 19 new artist’s records were established, with 58% of the lots sold realising prices in excess of high estimate. Two works sold for over £5 million, four for over $5 million, 13 for over £1 million, and 19 for over $1 million.

Alex Bell, International Department Head of Sotheby’s Old Masters Department Worldwide, said: “We are thrilled with this evening’s results – evidence not only of the current strength of the market, but also a reflection of the tremendous quality of the works we presented tonight. This evening’s offering was, without doubt, the most consistently high quality group of pictures we have brought together in any Old Master Paintings sale in all my 22 years at Sotheby’s. What was also noticeable in tonight’s sale was the extraordinary breadth of the buyer base – our sales are now attracting a more diverse and international spectrum of buyers than ever before.” The top selling lot of the evening was Frans Hals’ Portrait of Willem van Heythuysen (lot 26) – one of the most remarkable portraits remaining in private hands by one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Recently rediscovered after nearly half a century, this powerful, bravura portrait of Haarlem merchant van Heythuysen soared above estimate (£3,000,000-5,000,000), selling for £7,097,250/ $13,995,067/€8,934,029 – the second highest price ever achieved for a work by the artist at auction.

Further top lots included: Pope’s Villa at Twickenham, a masterpiece by Britain’s most celebrated artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A., (1775-1851). Among the most important works by Turner to appear on the market in living memory, this splendid work came to auction after some181 years in a distinguished private collection. It made £5,417,250 – the fourth highest price for a work by the artist ever achieved at auction.• The Edge of a Village with Figures Dancing (lot 19) by Jan Brueghel the Elder. One of the finest works by Jan Brueghel the Elder to remain in private hands, and one of only two paintings by him to include a self-portrait, the work made £3,513,250/ $6,927,778 (est: £2.5-3.5 million) – establishing a new auction record for the artist.• A Winter Landscape (lot 40) by Aert van der Neer made £2,729,250/ $5,381,808, well in excess of the pre-sale estimate of £1,000,000-1,500,000 – and a new auction record for the artist.• David and Bathsheba (lot 62) by Lucas Cranach the Elder, made £2,113,250($4,167,118) – ten times the pre-sale low estimate of £200,000.• The Misers lot 8 by a follower of Marinus van Reymerseale. A work of exceptional quality, the painting attracted heated bidding from no fewer than eight determined bidders, selling for£2,057,250 ($4,056,691) –13 times the high estimate of £150,000.Private collections :This evening also included works from three illustrious collections – each group of which exceeded pre-sale estimates: Paintings from the renowned collection of Dr Gustav Rau (1922-2002)Works from the collection of this great 20thcentury philanthropist and collector tonight realised £6,225,200/ €7,836,292 against a pre-sale estimate of £2.1-3.3 million. The group was led by a delightful gold-ground triptych by Taddeo di Bartolo (lot 66) soared above its £300,000-400,000 estimate, realising£1,889,250 / $3,725,412. Similarly, Tintoretto’s Portrait of an elderly bearded man sold for £1,609,250 against a pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000 – establishing a new auction record for the artist.• Works from the Wetzlar collection (lots 1-6 and 42-54)Works from this illustrious Dutch collection tonight realised £3,808,850 / €4,794,586,against a combined pre-sale estimate of £2,260,000-3,280,000. Together with the sum realised by four Impressionist paintings sold at Sotheby’s Paris recently (3rdJuly), the total for works sold from this collection at Sotheby’s this season now comes to £4,611,284/ €5,809,186• The Mavrommatis Collection: Following the runaway success of yesterday’s sale (8thJuly, 2008) of furniture and works of art from the collection of Dimitri Mavrommatis, three paintings from the same source tonight realised a further £1,314,500 / €1,654,699 – well in excess of pre-sale expectations(£600,000-900,000), and bringing the total sold for Mavrommatis property sold at Sotheby’s this season to £12,065,295.