Rothschild sale brought British collectors out

Sotheby's sale lands within estimate at £1.3 million



The Rothschild name and provenance are generally enough to raise collectors’ temperatures–and the prices they are prepared to pay. No such excesses marked Sotheby’s sale in London on 12 December of objects from the collection of the late Nathaniel Mayer Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild, which landed solidly within estimate at £1.3 million, This reflected the highly-specialised nature of the sale, which featured an uneven group of gold boxes, intaglios, cameos, Limoges enamels and 19th-century copies of Renaissance jewels plus a few genuine ones, and the fact that both houses competed for the sale. Estimates as a result, were carefully honed. In an unusual move, the Rothschild trustees had asked that the cameos and intaglios be reoffered as a single lot, after the sale of the individual lots, to any bidder prepared to go above the total of the individual bids. This is what happened, and two bidders, one in the room and the other on the telephone, went for the group, with the telephone bidder, reportedly a private British collector, acquiring the lot for £156,800. “We hadn’t sold a group of cameos and intaglios like this for over a century, they just don’t come up, and we were surprised by the interest, it brought out many more people than we expected,” said Sotheby’s James Miller after the sale. The highest price was made by the cover lot, a parcel-gilt figure of King David by Christoph Lencker made in Augsburg about 1610, which sold for a within estimate £285,600.