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The Lock Sells — Very Quickly

Christie’s had John Constable’s “The Lock” on stage at tonight’s auction for just over a minute — and that’s not a plus.

The bidding was started at £17 million, increased by £500,000 increments, and it was all over — two bidders, I think, but it’s hard to tell from viewing online — at £20 million. That was the low estimate, but does not include the premium. I leave that for Christie’s to figure out for us and disclose post-sale.

Why the painting failed to bring more money — and more bids — will have to wait for post-sale analysis. The high estimate was £25 million, and I heard from someone recently in London that “word on the street is that a Russian left a bid of  £25 million.” I’d heard mention of even higher prices. Sometimes rumors like these scare bidders away. Or maybe people don’t like the seller’s motivation.

I watched some other lots sell, and several soared past estimates, though not in the eight-figure range.



  1. Over at least the last 2 years, I have seen much too much hype in art news. Most of this has been put forth by the art auction community, and it has been swallowed, hook, line and sinker, by the international art press. To me, it is like watching so many cheerleaders urge on the team, but hype will only hurt markets by building too high exectations and an evetual crack.
    As a professional investor I have watched the investment press be manipulated, all too often, over the past 30 years: trying to be first to report a story without really checking facts. It is sad to see this creeping into the art press, these days, while, at the same time, other cheerleaders are trying to promote art as an investment…forget the actual details of the art.
    However, i have been encouraged, over the past several months, by seeing articles that counter the hypes and look at reality. Maybe ther’s hope, yet, for the art press.

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