I t was an honor and privilege to work with so many of the world’s most renowned dealers in pulling together this sale, which is unprecedented in many ways. Although Sotheby’s held a dealer sale in 2006, the auction you are now viewing is quite different. First of all, many more dealers are involved- more than twenty in the London segment of the sale and seventeen in the New York segment. And instead of engaging an outside vetting committee, as was done for the 2006 sale, Sotheby’s specialists in London and New York were themselves responsible for the selection of pictures and the negotiations with the individual dealers. I am happy to say that the collaboration between Sotheby’s and this group of internationally acclaimed dealers took place in a seamless and respectful way.
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Auction houses are usually dependent on an element of chance when assembling our sales, as many works of art come to us from private collections or estates. By contrast, the works in this sale were culled solely from dealers’ inventories, which means that in a sense they had already gone through a vetting process: they had each dealers’ implicit stamp of approval, and we knew from the outset that we knew we could trust each dealer in matters of taste, attribution and condition. It occurred to me that these respected dealers, all temporarily locked up at home with closed galleries and unable to exhibit at art fairs, might welcome the exposure and sale of their works through Sotheby’s. I imagined myself in this situation, had I still been an active dealer, and I know I would have welcomed such an opportunity.
Another aspect that distinguishes this sale from previous attempts to offer paintings and drawings from dealers’ inventories is of course that the event will take place online. I have realized that many of our online bidders seem to come from an entire new world of collectors. In the present sale, these interested parties can simply click on the hyperlink next to the lot that catches their attention, and there they will be brought to the individual dealer’s brief biography, a photo of their gallery, and finally, an email through which they can make inquiries to the owner of the work of art. I think that such transparency is a wonderful gesture on Sotheby’s part, to potentially engage buyer with seller. After all, the relationship between dealers and the auction house is, and has always been, reciprocal. With more capital than the average dealer, it has been historically the role of the auction house to open up and explore new markets, most recently Asia, and now the internet buyers. These markets thrive only with the interaction and aesthetic input of dealers throughout the world; Sotheby’s recognizes this fact and is proud of its relationships with the world’s best dealers.
Sotheby’s teams of specialists on both sides of the Atlantic strived to keep the estimates low for this sale, in order to encourage bidding, and we hope that the price range is attractive to online bidders. Whether this sale is a success or not - and we certainly hope for all parties concerned that it is - participants should know that they are now part of the future, moving towards a better-prepared world that will once again thrive without a disrupting virus.
This catalogue could never have been organized by one person, and I should like to thank the teams in our Old Master Paintings and Drawings departments in both London and New York. You will see many of their names accompanying write-ups on the individual works being offered, where they provide their personal insights on the painting or drawing described.
– Otto Naumann