Rembrandt at Sotheby’s

Further to this previous blog Sotheby’s sold the self portrait by Rembrandt for a hammer price of £12.6 million, a record for a self portrait of the artist and one of only three left in private hands. The lot was one of the cornerstones of a new auction live-streamed format that has evolved through lockdown and included great works by major names in art history across all periods.

But when all is said and done I actually thought that it was going to make more – try getting another? There was a guaranteed bid and the initial bidding went in half a million pound steps to £12 million – which was the low estimate. It then proved remarkably slow to get it any higher, with strained bidding steps of £100,000 lasting 5 minutes to eventually get it up a further half a million pounds to the final selling price and woefully short of the £16 million suggested high estimate. Puzzling. According to the auction house top end art market buyers are “in rude health” but only 6 people were bidding – enough though you would think for a good fight – but clearly not. Their hearts weren’t in it as we sat waiting upon these low bids that were eked out by the ever patient showman Oliver Barker.

I think the new buyer should be very pleased with a great picture purchased at a good price. Sotheby’s previously sold another self portrait by Rembrandt back in 2003 for 6.9 million which is illustrated below and with Thomas S. Kaplan in his glorious Leiden Collection.

Could it be Thomas Kaplan once more? The winning bid came from New York and to say he’s keen on Rembrandt is an understatement. His collection is named after where the artist was born and as a child of eight he wanted to travel to Amsterdam to see as many of his works as possible!