Sunday, January 31, 2010

London: Auctions High and Low

We went to two auction previews today, and they couldn't have been more different. They are at the opposite ends of high and low. We started at the 'low'.

Bonhams in Knightsbridge (as opposed to the one on New Bond) generally has the more affordable offerings.

Bonhams in Knightsbridge

We were a bit dubious of the offering given the title: 'Pictures and Frames - to sell without reserve.' That's as low a description as I can imagine. We were surprised what fun it actually was in a decorative inspirations sort of way. The paintings were almost all by amateurs but not of bad quality. I could easily see buying 3 or 4 at £25 a piece ($40) and grouping them on a library or den wall. I don't know the estimate range to expect since the catalogue did not include any, given that the sale is 'without reserve'. I will have to check in a few days to test my theory. 

This is the kind of auction I would attend in person. The idea would be to pick up a few items at very low prices. Absentee bidding would not be the way to go. 

Here are a couple of photos to give a flavor of the show. 

Paintings at Bonhams
Our next stop was at the highest of 'high'. We went to the Christie's Impressionist/Modern sale preview at their King Street branch in St. James's. We had actually not been to this Christie's before, having usually gone to the South Kensington branch which has the more affordable shows. 

            Christie's in St. James's

The show was impressive. They seemed to have a better offering than the Sotheby's preview we attended yesterday, and it was better presented. I was mesmerized by this Kees van Dongen.

 Kees van Dongen: Estimate £5.5 - £7.5 million

Almost all on offer is coming from private collections so has generally been hidden away. It's great to be able to get a peak before they disappear again.

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