Written By: Eleanor Pratt
In order to generate funds for collection care, the Brooklyn Museum has decided to sell several million dollars worth of art. Art Market Monitor reports that this was a long standing plan to deaccession works in order to be able to take care of its overall collection. The museum had one deaccessing round on Thursday, Oct. 15, at Christie’s auction house, and another on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at Sotheby’s in New York City.
Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternick made a recent statement about the decision saying that it “…comes after several years of focused effort by the museum to build a plan to strengthen its collection, repatriate objects, advance provenance research, improve storage and more.” According to Art News, the museum hopes to raise $40 million in total to help alleviate the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
The auction at Christie’s seemed to be a success. One of the top selling items was the 16th century work “Lucretia” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, which sold for $5.1 million rather than the estimated price of $1.2 million. The Brooklyn Museum had owned the painting since 1921.
In addition to “Lucretia,” several other pieces were successfully sold off to various collectors. Many paintings sold for well above their estimated price, which will help the museum immensely in reaching its goals. For instance, Lorenzo Costa’s “Portrait of a Gentleman” sold for $110,000 rather than the lower estimate of $60,000, according to Art News. Unfortunately some works sold for below their estimates. Giovanni Di Marco’s painting depicting the Madonna and child sold for $75,000, which was far below its estimate. Like the painting of Lucretia, this painting has been in the Brooklyn Museum’s possession since 1925.
Despite some paintings selling for slightly less than estimated, the museum managed to generate a total of $6.6 million. While this is an impressive figure, there will still need to be several more auctions in order to reach the ultimate goal of $40 million.
The auction at Sotheby’s has a pre-sale low estimate of $12 million. Art News reports that the museum plans to sell seven works in total, including works from several impressionists. At one of the biggest lots, Claude Monet’s 1897 work “Les lles à Port Villez” is estimated to sell at anywhere from $2.5 million to $3.5 million. Also up for sale is “Carrefour de Malbry” by Henri Matisse for an estimated $800,000 to $1.2 million and Edgar Degas’ 1902 work “Femme nue assise s’essuyant les chevaux” for $1 million to $1.5 million.
If the sale on Oct. 28 goes well, the Brooklyn museum will be well on its way to its goal of $40 million. Unfortunately, the museum will have to sell many more pieces to reach this number. Hopefully, the COVID-19 pandemic will fade away enough for the museum to begin to generate more revenue from art lovers visiting the museum rather than art auctions.