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Christie’s Old Master Sale: Like I Have Said, Size Does Not Matter

December 7, 2017

El Greco

Tonight, Christie’s presented their selection of Old Master works and if my calculations are correct, it seems to have been a huge hit!

Taking the top spot here was El Greco’s Saint Francis and Brother Leo in Meditation which hammered at £5.9M (£6.87M w/c – est. £5-7M). In second we had a tie at £2.8M (£3.37M w/c): Bartholomäus Spranger’s Mercury carrying Psyche to Mount Olympus (est. £4-600K) and Rembrandt’s Portrait of Petronella Buys (est. £1.5-2.5M) – both beating their estimates … one by a long shot! Rounding out the top five were Jacob van Ruisdael’s Sailing vessels in a stormy sea near a rocky coast at £1.2M (£1.45M w/c – crushing its £3-500K estimate) and Ludolf Bakhuizen’s An extensive seascape with figures by a boat on a shore at £550K (£669K w/c – also crushing its £80-120K estimate).

Bartholomäus Spranger

The theme for the sale was: Soar or Go Home. Of the 36 lots in the sale, 1 was withdrawn and 27 sold (77.1% sell-through rate) … a bit weaker than the Sotheby’s sale … and the total take was £18.15M (£21.77M w/c – low end of their presale estimate range was just £12.34M – so they crushed it). Of those 27 sold works, 21 were above, 3 within and 3 below their estimate range. Adding in the 8 unsold works that gives them an accuracy rate of only 8.5%. I doubt that really mattered to most since more than 60 of the works beat their estimates … and many in a big way.  The top three works accounted for £11.5M (£13.61M), or 62.5%, of the sale’s total. So, while they did have that one big one, they also had plenty of smaller ones that checked all the boxes in terms of quality, condition, etc. Nice going!


Last night Sotheby’s offered up 50 works, sold 41 and generated 25.05M. Tonight, Christie’s almost matched that total with 15 fewer lots. See, size doesn’t always matter – slim and trim is the way to go!