Thursday, February 22, 2007

Goudstikker Works to Christie's

Carol Vogel reports in tomorrow's New York Times that approximately 170 old master paintings recently returned to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker after an eight-year legal battle with the Dutch government will be auctioned off by Christie's beginning in April.

Some interesting marketing decisions were involved. For example:

"There are many works by the same artists — six by van Ruysdael, four by Jan van Goyen, six by David Teniers the Younger — so to avoid saturating the market, Christie’s recommended three separate sales. The first is April 19 in New York; the next, July 5 in London; and the third, in November in Amsterdam."

Last week an Amsterdam court awarded one of the heirs' Dutch lawyers at least $2.5 million, but, according to the Associated Press, "suggested that amount should be quadrupled to $10 million to reflect the risk the lawyer took in working on the case for so long with uncertain prospects for payment. 'A multiplication factor of four is not unreasonable, under the given circumstances,' the court said in its written ruling. It left it up to both sides to negotiate the exact amount." The AP adds that "the ruling opens the question of what the Goudstikker heirs will be left with in the end. Evidence cited in the ruling suggested another Dutch lawyer might seek up to 20 percent of the value of the collection, U.S. lawyers another 10 percent, and a U.S. art historian who helped research the case yet another 10 percent."

Good background on the Goudstikker matter from Alan Riding of the Times here.