The Things People Find, Antiques Roadshow edition

A priest in England picked up an old portrait in an antique store for £400. He took it to a Roadshow where someone suspected it might be a Van Dyke. Lots of study later and it is – and worth about £400,000. He’s going to sell it and buy bells. My parents and I were watching the PBS of Roadshow last night – someone had a student work by Chuck Close. They told her at auction it might go for $100,000. So there are treasures out there!

Why Detroit has every right to sell off at least some of the art from its museum

Virginia Postrel explains. And I’m convinced – the works the city paid for are probably fair game! Quick excerpt:

In 1931, the man who built the collection, director William Valentiner, argued for continued city funding by citing how much the works’ value had appreciated. “The Brueghel painting we purchased for $38,000 is valued at more than $150,000,” he said. “If the city were to sell, piece by piece, the objects of art it has purchased, they would realize more than five times the amount paid for them.” Valentiner certainly wasn’t advocating such sales, but his statement demonstrates that they weren’t inconceivable.

Acquire with city funds, go down with the sinking ship. Maybe the van Gogh self portrait would keep some fire stations open for another year?

You mean that’s a Van Dyck over there in the corner?

A British effort to put pictures of all the oil paintings in the UK online pays off – an art historian spotted a previously unknown Van Dyck portrait.

The painting, which was not thought to be important and in a bad condition, was covered in layers of dirt and varnish and was not on display at the Bowes Museum.

 

But it was photographed as part of the Public Catalogue Foundation’s mission to document every oil painting in public ownership and added to the BBC’s Your Paintings website, where it was spotted by art historian and dealer Dr Bendor Grosvenor.

 

“Although as part of our national heritage values are irrelevant, for insurance purposes it should now be valued at anything up to £1m,” Dr Grosvenor said.

 

“Had it appeared at auction as a copy, and in its dirty state, it would probably only have been estimated at about £3,000-5,000.”

Grosvenor runs Art History News – here’s an example of what he’s doing with this picture.

The general initiative is called Your Paintings.

Sharp eye – good deal

The Met owns Jacques Louis David’s Death of Socrates. One of their curators managed to buy a David preparatory drawing for $700 at auction because it was misattributed!

Catalogued and illustrated . . . as “French school, early 19th century”, the 24.5cm by 38.2cm sheet (est $500-$700) depicting The Death of Socrates in brush, black ink and grey wash was described as “lightly squared for transfer in pencil. After the painting by Jacques-Louis David in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.” [my emphasis]

Instead of “after the painting” it was “for the painting.” Good call!

What do you do if you own a million things?

The Met owns so much it has no where to hang it all!

The Met owns so much it has no where to hang it all! Sorry this is rotated. WordPress isn’t playing fair.

What do you do if you own a miilion things? by Michael Tinkler
What do you do if you own a miilion things?, a photo by Michael Tinkler on Flickr.

Professor Cowen was asking about the deadweight loss of stuff in storage in museums. Look at one way the Met tries to get around that. Suboptimal viewing experience – but they’re still up. This is the The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, which they claim is everything that’s not up in the main galleries.

A Patient Optimist

A Matisse stolen from a Swedish museum was recently recovered in the UK. I can’t decide if the standard line is meaningless optimism or just a negotiating tactic:

At the time of the theft, a spokesman for the museum said the painting was too “well-known” to “sell on the open market”.

Mr Marinello agreed with the sentiment, adding: “I commend the museum for not giving in to ransom demands a quarter century ago.

“Stolen artwork has no real value in the legitimate marketplace and will eventually resurface… it’s just a matter of waiting it out.”

Well, they had to wait 25 years. Is that optimism?

The Dallas Museum contacts Turkey – not the other way around

This is encouraging. The Dallas Museum of Art is returning looted art to Turkey even before the Turkish government asked for it (click and see – there’s an ok photograph of the mosaic in question). Compare that to the Met, which is still stonewalling. In exchange, Dallas hopes to get some good loan materials. I hadn’t noticed that Max Anderson is now the director at Dallas – his first director position was at Emory’s Carlos Museum.

Damien Hirst – betrayed by the market?

For all his celebrity, Hirst’s stock in the art market has experienced a stunning deflation. According to data compiled by the firm Artnet, Hirst works acquired during his commercial peak, between 2005 and 2008, have since resold at an average loss of 30 percent. And that probably understates the decline—judging from the dropoff in sales volume, collectors aren’t bringing their big-ticket Hirsts to market. A third of the more than 1,700 Hirst pieces offered at auctions since 2009 have failed to sell at all—they’ve been “burned,” in the terminology of the art world. “He has way underperformed,” says Michael Moses, a retired New York University business professor who maintains a financial index for art. “He has lots and lots of negative returns.”

Painting Bought for $9.99 at Goodwill Valued at $15K

That’s the headline. The story is better! She was going to paint over them!

“I thought they would be awesome canvases. They were $9.99 a piece and I just thought they would be great to just draw on them and paint over them because I didn’t like them as paintings. They were really ‘70s kind of looking, but not ‘70s in that fun, kitschy way, ‘70s in a different way that I don’t really enjoy, so I was like, ‘I’m going to paint big cat heads or whatever,’” Feeback,who specializes in pet portraits, said. “I was going to paint on them and so I bought them.”

She showed them to a friend at the art fair, and her friend spotted labels on the backs of the canvases that read: “Weatherspoon Art Gallery. University of North Carolina – Greensboro.” Her friend told her to find out more about the paintings before she painted them over.

Feeback took the canvases home and they languished in her art studio until mid-June. She nearly painted over them a few times.

“But I decided, you know, I’ll check, I’ll Google these guys. The first one I Google was Bolotowsky. And I Google it and the first thing I saw was the Wikipedia page and I was like, ‘Holy crap. I better get those up off the floor over there,’” she recalled. “And then it just went crazy. When I saw what it was I thought, ‘This painting has got to be worth something, but what do I do now? I don’t know anything about selling a valuable painting.’  We made $200 at the art show that day.”

You know, someone de-accessioned those!

Is this an excuse for stealing art?

But your honor, I had a delusion that I was an art thief. Yes, in fact, I took the paintings, but, but . . . .

And the judge bought it.

Michael Gerard Sullivan, 54, has pleaded guilty to stealing two paintings from the Katoomba Fine Art Gallery in December 2008.

At the time the gallery was also a restaurant and CCTV vision clearly shows Mr Sullivan stealing two James Willebrant paintings between courses.

During his court case Mr Sullivan’s lawyers tendered two psychiatric reports which concluded he had dissociative amnesia and his actions were totally out of character.