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Did Tobias Meyer Really Say This?

TobiasMeyerI have to think that even Andy Warhol — maybe especially Andy Warhol — would laugh at a comment made recently by Tobias Meyer (ar right), the worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s recently. To wit:

“It has the intensity of a great Warhol or a great Bacon.”

The “it” under discussion was the Raphael drawing sold by Sotheby’s on behalf of Chatsworth on Dec. 5. Head of An Apostle fetched nearly $47.9 million after intense bidding. It’s an amazing piece of work that at least one expert I know thinks is Raphael’s best drawing in private hands. And maybe his best drawing ever.

What was Meyer thinking?

Elsewhere in the video, Sotheby’s experts Gregory Rubinstein and Christiana Romalli talk about Raphael’s career and laud this drawing properly as the “most intensely moving, powerful and wonderful drawing” Sotheby’s has ever handled. I wonder what they thought of Meyer’s comment. And I wonder who made the video and actually decided to use that quote.

Meyer goes on to say: “This is the greatest drawing by one of the greatest artists in the world.” Good recovery. But it hard for me to believe that he would make the comparison between Raphael and Warhol or Bacon — more so because Meyer not only thinks it, but said it — out loud, on a recording. There’s no room to deny it. See the video for yourself here (the second one, “Raphael: Renaissance Masters from Chatsworth.”

I asked the aforementioned anonymous, highly respected expert if we should laugh or cry. “Both,” he replied.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Telegraph



  1. How did this guy get his job? Certainly not by his knowledge and judgment.

  2. People forget that Sotheby’s and Christie’s, in the end, are not in the business of art. They are in the business of making money. Their art experts are passionate about the art (just as their jewelry experts are about jewelry, their rock n roll experts about rock n roll, and wine experts about wine); but in the end, the auctioneers, the Board of Directors, the department chairs, are there to make money for the company. I get the distinct impression from this story that this approach has found its way into Meyer’s veins. A Raphael can just as well be a Warhol; it’s not about the art, but the numbers lighting up the board when the hammer comes down.

  3. Of course, he’s saying it because of the money — he’s reassuring all those people who’ve spent millions on contemporary art that they haven’t paid too much, even though so many have.

  4. thank you Judith

  5. I can certainly understand his motivation for making the statement (as Abigail pointed out), however, it is still rather poor judgment and will actually undermine his intended goal.

  6. When you have the blind leading the blind what is to be expected? How loosely the word “expert” is used, expert at what?

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