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Old Masters in New York – Hits and Flops

February 4, 2012

The major morning sales of Old Master paintings at Christie’s and Sotheby’s saw a few new records and some big flops, starting with Christies’ cover lot, a Madonna and Child by Hans Memling.  The so-so picture came with an aggressive estimate ($6-8 million) and ended up biting the dust, as did the recently exhibitied Giuseppe Arcimboldo ($3-5 million), so that the top lot at that sale ended up being the majestic Giovanni Batista Tiepolo The Arrival of Henry III at the Villa Contarini (est. $4-6 million, hammer price including buyer’s premium $5,906,500). This earlier pre-sale posting has been updated to includes final results.

Giambattista Tiepolo (Venice 1696-1770 Madrid) The Arrival of Henry III at the Villa Contarini oil on canvas 28¼ x 42 in. (71.7 x 106.7 cm.) Est. $4-6 million, hammer price including buyer's premium $5,906,500. Christie's.

Uptown at Sotheby’s the carnage in the top end estimated works was slightly less pronounced. The two Gentile da Fabriano’s (lots 6&7) went to the same telephone bidder (who also purchased the lovely Fra Bartolomeo of Saint Jerome from the Dodie Rosenkrans collection). This earlier pre-sale posting has been updated to include the results. Notable failures included a van Dyck Rest on the Flight into Egypt (est. $3-3.5 million) and the cover lot, a still life by Jan van Huysum (est. $4-6 million).

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