07 May Spanish Auctions gain attention after attributed Velazquez sold for 8 million €
Last Abalarte auction attracted all national and international looks since April 3 uncovered the beautiful canvas attributed to Diego Velazquez, Portrait of a girl (57.5 x 44 cm). Undoubtedly, a top work that has taken the Abalarte room to the first line of national auctions.
At 19:30 the lot 41, corresponding to this canvas, was left, which also presided over the auction from the platform of the auctioneer. An unprecedented crowd filled the room, made up in part of bidders armed with their numbered palette, and partly by curious people from the art world who wanted not only to see the work (which could already be observed in the auction exhibition the previous days) if not also to attend a moment that was advertised exalted.
However, the moment came and went. Lot 41 arrived and was announced, and passed without greater pain or glory. Yes it is true that more than one kept the breath, and even in the calm voice of the auctioneer can be intuited the certain nervousness to the work that had in the afternoon yesterday. The already known eight million euros were announced and after a brief pause announced what was already supposed: a buyer still anonymous had made a prior written bid, including that price. The glances were directed towards the representative of the Rating and Valuation Board, indirectly responsible for issuing the order of inexportability that weighs on the formerly known “velazqueño child.” Unperturbed by the expectation, he did not move a muscle to bid publicly for the work, nor was there a sudden telephone announcing the State’s right of trial, as happened in lot 25, which we will discuss later.
Therefore, the lot was given as adjudicated to this anonymous buyer, of which no information is known until now. The rumors began to expand with the speed that characterizes them, not only about the identity of the new possessor of a possible Velazquez, but also about that disappearance of the State. Once the auction ended, the experts in Velazquez began to raise their voices who until the moment had kept a silence only broken by that endorsed the work at first for its attribution, Richard de Willermin.
Jonathan Brown, a renowned expert on the artist, a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando and an expert in Spanish art of the 16th and 17th centuries, answered the questions that El Pais Newspaper had asked him before: “I have not seen the original and did not know the existence of this painting, but judging by the photographs it is possible that it is Velázquez. I think the state should get it.” He was not the only one. Also the renowned professor Benito Navarrete pronounced on the subject “I have no doubts that it is an important work of the Sevillian period of Velazquez”, although also it explained that the starting price was excessive. Meanwhile, the Prado experts have not made public pronouncements, but Javier Portús, head of the Spanish Painting Department (until 1700), wrote a favorable report for the Qualification Board, explaining his resemblance to other Immaculate Concepts such as Focus Abengoa or The resident in the National Gallery, both works of the artist’s youth.
In relation to the statements of Navarrete we can intuit that perhaps the State has also seen raised the price that asked the room for the work. His last acquisitions were not minor works: The Wine of Saint Martin’s Day, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, for a price of seven million euros, and Fra Angelico’s The Virgin of the Pomegranate, which cost eighteen million euros. Recall that, in this case, the eight million orders and accepted must be added VAT, a 21% in taxes, which make Velázquez a work bought for 9.680.000 €. It is said soon. Anyway, in matters of prices, we have to look back and see how the National Museum of the Prado paid twenty-three million euros for Portrait of Ferdinando Brandani, another Velazquez.
Not everything in Abalarte was Velazquez, of course. The State made its appearance to exercise its right of trial in lot number 25, an Appearance of the Virgin to Saint Julian, attributed to Giuseppe Simonelli (disciple of Luca Giordano), which seemed to be delivered to a telephone bidder, but finally ended up in the hands of the State for € 10,000. Then, Alonso Cano titled Tobias and the angel came out for € 35,000, and was awarded after a few intense moments for € 150,000.
Art Historian and Appraiser. Graduated from Salamanca University
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