A rare Van Gogh painting of a view of Montmartre has just been offered for sale by Sotheby’s, after spending a hundred years in the same French family. Estimated last week at between five and eight million euros, it was finally sold for 13 million euros after a most exciting auction.
“Street scenes in Montmartre” (Impasse des Deux Frères and the Pepper Mill) painted in 1887 and measuring 46 by 61 cm had been in the same family for a century, and was one of the few Van Gogh paintings still in private hands. It was acquired between 1915 and 1920 and had never even been exhibited to the public. Its authenticity has been verified by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
According to Fabien Mirabaud, auctioneer at Mirabaud-Mercier, who is organising the sale of the painting in collaboration with Sotheby’s, there are very few works of such quality left in private collections and, when they are offered for sale, they are very often sent directly to New York for auction. This time, the work was exhibited at Drouot for a short week and was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Paris.
So it was after a sale full of twists and turns that the work of art sold at a bid of 11,250,000 euros, or just over 13 million with costs.
Indeed, it was not without complications, as the bidding went on for 10 minutes, between phone calls with buyers from New York, Hong Kong and London and bids from Internet users.
Starting at €4 million, the bidding climbed from one million to the next, leaving only a Hong Kong collector and a Londoner in the running. With a bid of €13.5 million, the Londoner was almost declared the winner until an internet buyer won the painting with a bid of €14 million.
However, the auction was reopened 20 minutes after Aurélie Vandevoorde, director of the Impressionist and Modern department, said that the auction was not valid. Sotheby’s did not wish to provide any further details apart from the invalidity of the auction.
It should be noted that in this situation, if the bids do not reach the same amount offered and accepted at the previous auction, the bidder must pay the difference.
The sale then resumed, starting at the same price as the first, and involving the same two bidders. In the end, Samuel Valette won the auction over the Asian buyer.
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