Buying smart, provenance, and the historic sale of a Bugatti
The headlines included “Most Enduring Trend: Consigning Great Collections” and the historic sale of a Bugatti. But this wasn’t a report on any of the recent collector car auctions. Instead, it was artnet.com‘s roundup of the November art-week auctions in New York City.
The week included 13 auctions and $2.04 billion — yes, that’s billion with a “b” — in sales.
So what, you might wonder, what do auctions of art and automobiles have in common? Perhaps more than you might imagine.
Well, except for the sizes of the bids. Record prices paid at auction: Car — $48.4 million for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO; Art — $450.3 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Or to put it another way, Sotheby’s did $835 million during one week in New York, and that figure is nearly double the total sales of collector cars posted by RM Sotheby’s in the past year!
Nonetheless, three of artnet.com‘s takeaways from observing the art sales in New York City included:
• From ‘Buying Big’ to ‘Buying Smart’
“Although this November’s sales delivered a few (very) high-dollar records, the healthy cumulative totals arrived with relatively minimal froth. Bidders by and large seemed intent on hunting for value and refusing to go overboard, even for works marketed as the cream of any given auction’s crop…
“Has the collector base, so often vilified for its excesses, learned from past mistakes in more exuberant market cycles?
“Opinions vary widely enough to keep the discussion lively until Art Basel Miami Beach, the next (and last) market milestone of 2018.”
Change the venue from NYC to Monterey and substitute Scottsdale for Miami Beach and those words should ring very true to the car-collecting community.
• Consigning Great Collections
“Good provenance is always in fashion,” artnet.com reported. “And both Sotheby’s and Christie’s continued leaning hard into the strategy of presenting blocks of works by esteemed collectors this fall.
“Christie’s, though, arguably took matters to a new extreme. It set records through its Barney A. Ebsworth collection sale… and even made ‘Great Collections’ the unifying theme of its Impressionist and Modern evening auction.”
Seemingly all of the collector car auction houses are eager to publicize their ability to attract consignments from large and significant collections, but perhaps none so much as Mecum, which has converted a warehouse into a temporary museum to promote the upcoming sale in Las Vegas of more than 230 vintage motorcycles from the heralded MC Collection of Stockholm.
Expect “from the collection of” news as we approach Scottsdale and Kissimmee auctions.
• Rembrandt Bugatti’s Deux Girafes
No, it’s not one of Ettore or Jean Bugatti’s amazing automobiles but a sculpture of two giraffes by Ettore’s brother, Rembrandt.
What makes its sale — for $1.8 million — even more significant in artnet.com‘s opinion was that this work of art had been owned by the same family, that of French author Joseph Reinach and his family, since 1908.
“While some collector flip works faster than pancakes,” the website reported, “others hold on for decades before reselling.”
The “longest hold” selling at New York was the Rembrandt. Rembrandt Bugatti, that is.