The Getty announced its most expensive acquisition ever and the New York Times’s Jori Finkel does the math to calculate the sale at a likely sum above $100m. The obvious observation that it helps to have the Getty’s endowment when acquisition opportunities come along.
More to the point, for those who say the Old Master market is dead, many of the works were acquired publicly and at strong prices:
The cache is particularly rich in 16th-century drawings, with Michelangelo’s “Study of a Mourning Woman” showing a body bent in despair under a thick sculptural-looking robe; Andrea del Sarto’s “Study for the Head of St. Joseph” depicting the haggard saint asleep; and Parmigianino’s “Head of a Young Man” showing a beautifully full-lipped, wide-eyed boy looking upward. The sole painting in the group is Jean-Antoine Watteau’s “La Surprise,” circa 1718, which shows a commedia dell’arte character playing the guitar for a couple brazenly embracing.
The Watteau, which was believed lost until 2008, brought 12.36 million British pounds, or about $24.49 million, when it sold at Christie’s that year. The del Sarto brought £6.5 million, or $12.86 million, at Christie’s in 2005. The Michelangelo, also a rediscovery, brought £5.94 million, or $8.76 million, at Sotheby’s in 2001.
Also in the group: a wild Goya sketch of a man hanging from a cliff while eagle-hunting, a large Degas pastel of a woman drying off after a bath, and a panoramic Albert Cuyp drawing of the Meuse River that complements a Cuyp painting already at the Getty.