Scandal sells at Christie's, and the end of an era for Gimpel Fils
Memories of sexual, political and financial scandals came flooding back during last week’s sales for Modern British art. At Christie’s, the Dutch bank ING was selling works inherited when it bought Barings Bank for a pound in 1995, when Barings was brought to its knees by rogue trader Nick Leeson.
Some of the works made virtually no profit at all. An exception was a painting by Stanley Spencer’s brother, Gilbert, bought for £4,000 in 1984, which sold last week for a record £37,500.
Bidding was more impassioned for a seductive drawing of Mandy Rice-Davies, the blonde at the heart of the Profumo scandal in the Sixties. The drawing, by Stephen Ward, the society osteopath and artist also tied up in the scandal, sold for nearly ten times its £1,000-1,500 estimate, at £15,000.
At Sotheby’s, a drawing by Frank Auerbach [main image] which might have been yours for a mere £25 if you’d been alert enough to spot it at the Royal College of Art’s first Secret fundraiser exhibition in 1995, sold for £20,000. The next Secret exhibition, where all works are given the same price and the identities of the artists concealed until after you have made your purchase, will take place in November.
The end of an era for Gimpel Fils
Gimpel Fils, one of the longest running family art businesses, is closing its gallery in Davies Street, Mayfair, a site it has occupied since 1946. Rene Gimpel, a fourth generation member of the family, which began dealing art in the 19th century, said he has received a very attractive offer for the remainder of the lease and has decided to relocate, though where exactly is not yet decided.
Gimpel Fils was one of the foremost galleries supporting avant garde British art after the war, representing artists such as Peter Lanyon and Alan Davie. Gimpel will continue to represent the estates of Robert Adams, Albert Irvin and Corinne Day.