Colin Gleadell caught something no other reporter did at last night’s Christie’s sale of Leslie Waddington’s personal collection. According to Gleadell, Stefan Simchowitz—better known for dealing in bulk acquisitions of young artists—bought a significant portion of the Waddington collection, spending nearly £5m:
The first of three small paintings by Josef Albers then tripled estimates to sell for £665,000 ($848,000) to US dealer, Stefan Simchowitz […] Simchowitz also two bought two other small Albers paintings for similar prices; […] An equally small 1959 abstract by Robert Motherwell, Spanish Elegy, fell to him for £905,000 ($1.2 million), again three times the estimate. He also picked up a jazzy, striped 1920s watercolor,Chariot, by Francis Picabia, close to the high estimate for £1.6 million ($2 million); a small 1935 watercolor by Joan Miró, Musique, near the low estimate for £341,000 ($435,116); and a diminutive cubist bronze, Tete de Femme by Picasso, for a triple estimate £545,000 ($695,420).
Why was Waddington’s horde so valuable that all of the lots sold, most above the estimate range and so many to an active trader like Simchowitz? Gleadell went straight to the source for an explanation, Tom Lighton, former managing director of the gallery and executor of the estate:
I have no doubt that the provenance, Leslie’s reputation, and the fact that he had never tried to sell any of these works after he acquired them personally, were important factors.”