Auctions USA

LACMA ditches old masters

Paintings from the museum boosted Sotheby’s 4 June sale

new york. A cache of paintings from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art boosted Sotheby’s 4 June sale of old master paintings, making $5.8m for 14 lots from the museum, nearly double the $2.9m pre-sale estimate.

London dealer Johnny Van Haeften bought the three top Los Angeles lots for gallery stock, including Pieter de Hooch’s A Woman Handing a Coin to a Serving Woman with a Child, about 1668-72, for $1.7m, Gerard ter Borch’s The Card Players, about 1659, for $1.6m and Jan Steen’s The Twelfth Night, no date, for $674,500—paying double pre-sale estimates.

“This is a one-time event,” said Lacma’s deputy director Nancy Thomas. Meanwhile, last month the Los Angeles Times was tipped off by a comment on its website that the Orange County Museum of Art had arranged a private deal with an undisclosed collector to sell a chunk of its California impressionist collection at a drastically reduced price. The museum revealed that it had deaccessioned 18 of its 20 paintings dating from the start of the 20th century for a mere $963,000.

Director Dennis Szakacs defended the decision, saying the museum no longer collects works from that period and that it has shifted its focus to art made after 1950. Mr Szakacs says money from the sale will go towards new acquisitions.

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