It turns out Victoria Beckham can indeed spice up the Old Master market.
After launching a curatorial collaboration with the pop star-turned-fashion designer last month, Sotheby’s achieved a solid £42.6 million ($56.3 million) at its Old Master sale in London on Wednesday evening. The figure fell toward the upper end of the auction’s £33.1 million ($43.8 million) to £47.7 million ($63 million) pre-sale estimate. (Final prices include the buyers’ premium; pre-sale estimates do not.)
Although the sale lacked a headline, big-ticket lot, the strong results across the board were boosted by celebrity cachet and attention from new buyers in Asia and Latin America. Still, the result fell behind the equivalent total for last year’s sale, £52.5 million, which was propelled by a record-setting £18.5 million painting by J.M.W. Turner.
This year, the top-selling lot—Beckham’s stated favorite artwork of the bunch—was Rubens’s Portrait of a Venetian Nobleman (ca. 1620). The work sold for £5.4 million ($7.1 million), comfortably surpassing its £3 million to £4 million pre-sale estimate and setting a new record for a single portrait by the artist. It was consigned by the Dutch collector Hans Wetzlar and hadn’t been on the market in more than 60 years. Read more