Friday, December 1, 2023

Auction at Christie’s – After painting sale: relief prevails

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  • The Langmatt Museum in Baden (AG) needs 40 million francs to continue to exist.
  • Now it has sold three paintings by Paul Cézanne for 40.5 million francs ($44.8 million).
  • The pictures were auctioned by the international auction house Christie’s in New York.

The first painting to go under the hammer was “Fruits et pot de gingembre” (Fruits and Ginger Pot). It was auctioned for 33.5 million dollars (30.3 million francs). The painting was previously estimated to be worth between $35 million and $55 million.

If the most valuable of the three Cézanne paintings had gone under the hammer for 40 million francs, the two other paintings would not have been auctioned, the museum in Baden previously announced. The two other works “Quatre pommes et un couteau” and “La mer à l’Estaque” were also auctioned for 8.7 million and 2.6 million dollars. It was initially not known who bought the works.

«We regret that we had to sell all three pictures. Nevertheless, we are satisfied that we have achieved our goal of 40 million francs,” said Foundation Board President Lukas Breunig. This would make it possible to save the museum.

We could not be sure that we would reach the target of 40 million francs.

The art market is currently experiencing very large fluctuations, explains Breunig. The relief is even greater now. “We could not count with certainty on reaching the target of 40 million francs.

Selling is breaking a taboo

It is an unusual process and new in the Swiss and European museum industry: a museum sells pictures from its own collection to raise money. This was a breach of a taboo, criticized the Swiss section of the International Museum Association Icom when the plans became known.

However, art expert Christian von Faber-Castel does not believe that the sale of the pictures will set a precedent and that other museums will follow Langmatt’s example. “There are hardly any museums that have such valuable images and are at the same time in financial difficulties.”

Images were shown around the world

Before the auction, the pictures were shown to potential buyers in Hong Kong, London and Taipei. The auction house Christie’s traveled around the world with the pictures in the hope of inspiring art collectors.

The villa in which the art collection is located in Baden is in poor condition. The museum ran into financial difficulties. There was a minus in 2022. The foundation’s assets will soon be used up. Because the search for money and investors was unsuccessful, the museum decided to take this step.

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