Friday 22 March 2013

Sotheby's Barbier-Mueller Collection Sale Update

Nord Wennerstrom on Twitter:
 " 's Barbier-Mueller sale:  buyers staying away in droves [...] train wreck of a sale [...] The first part of Sotheby's sale of the  of Pre-Columbian antiquities has concluded and part two is about to begin. Thus far, 59 of the 109 lots offered failed to sell. That's not a complete disaster, but it is pretty bad". [...] Pt. 2 over-27 of 63 lots unsold"

86 out of 172 unsold. I suppose that depends what you see as a 'disaster'.  But perhaps some of the buyers of the other 86 will encounter problems getting export licences.
1 tele bidder spent €3.93 million-staff applauded ["One telephone bidder purchased the two most expensive lots in the sale – Lot 137 and Lot 160 – along with Lot 144.  Collectively those lots made a hammer price of €3.275 million (or €3,936,500 with the buyer’s premium)."]
We await the news from the biggest session (150 lots) tomorrow afternoon.

UPDATE 23.03.13
The third part of the sale is over, only 70 of the 151 pieces sold, mostly figures and 'odd-shaped' things. Some stunning pots went unsold. The collectors gathered there, despite the bad atmosphere under which this sale took place, seem not to have found the culturally-specific ceramics so attractive as exotic items that will look good as flashy home-decor. This suggests that their aim in buying these things is not so much to gain "an insight into the past" as "bling". It is a shame we do not know how many pieces went to private collectors, and which to institutions.  It would also be interesting (I do not have time) to break down the sales into groups according to provenance and 'reclaim issues' - except as far as I know, we have not yet been told which specific lots were questioned by Peru, Mexico and Guatemala. 

Vignette: Bidding at Sotheby's

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