Two landscapes by Lucian Freud previously in the collection of British businessman and philanthropist Simon Sainsbury will be offered next month at Christie’s in London, the auction house announced Friday.
Separately, Sotheby’s released additional highlights of its upcoming Masters Week in New York, including an over 400-year-old Anthony Van Dyke painting, A Sketch for Saint Jerome, that was found in a farm shed in the late 20th century in New York. The auction house expects to bring in more than US$100 million from across nine sales running now until early February.
Christie’s sale of the two Freud landscapes will take place on the evening of Feb. 28 in London. Offered by the same private collector, both paintings were formerly in the collection of Sainsbury, whose family founded Sainsbury’s, the second largest chain of supermarkets in the U.K. Upon his death in 2006 at the age of 76, Sainsbury bequeathed the majority of his art collection, estimated to be worth £100 million at the time, to the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery in London.
One of the paintings, Scillonian Beachscape from 1945-46, will make its first public appearance on the market since 1974 and has a presale estimate of between £3.5 million and £5.5 million (US$4.3 million and US$6.8 million). Depicting a dreamlike coastal scene in lush, sun-drenched color, it was inspired by Freud’s visit to the Isles of Scilly and directly based on his drawing, Untitled, which sold for £138,600 at Christie’s in London last October.
The other, Garden from the Window, depicts the artist’s garden at 138 Kensington Church Street. It was first unveiled at the Tate in London in 2002, and its debut auction at Christie’s is expected to fetch £2.5 million and £3.5 million.
“Lucian Freud, revered as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, continually returned to the natural world as a source of rich inspiration throughout his career. This lifelong fascination is perfectly encapsulated in these two exquisite paintings which offer viewers insight into both his early and late life,” Tessa Lord, acting head of department of Post-War and contemporary art at Christie’s London, said in a news release.
The National Gallery in London has recently organized a centenary retrospective “Lucian Freud: New Perspectives,” which will move to Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional in Madrid in February.
Freud’s auction record was set by his painting large interior w11 (after watteau), 1981-83, from the collection of Paul Allen. It sold for US$86.3 million last November at Christie’s in New York.
Meanshile, t Sotheby’s, its first major sale of the year will be its Masters Week in New York, which is expected to bring in more than US$100 million across nine sales that will run through early February.
The sales will be led by 10 Baroque masterpieces from the collection of Mark Fisch, a real estate developer and a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and his ex-wife, Rachel Davidson, a former New Jersey judge. The two filed for divorce last year. Highlighting the collection, to be auctioned next Thursday, is a 1609 Rubens masterpiece, Salome Presented with The Severed Head of Saint John the Baptist, with an estimate of between US$25 million and US$35 million.
The sales also include The One, a new format sale featuring one-of-a-kind objects throughout history. This sale will be led by Kobe Bryant’s Lakers jersey with a high estimate of US$7 million, and a Princess Diana’s dress, with a presale estimate between US$80,000 and US$120,000.
A Sketch for Saint Jerome from 1615-18 by Anthony Van Dyck that was discovered in the late 20th century in a farm shed in Kinderhook, N.Y., will be offered in the region of US$2 million and US$3 million. A portion of proceeds from the sale will benefit the Albert B. Roberts Foundation, which supports artists and other creatives.
Roberts, a collector of “lost” pieces, purchased the sketch for US$600. Soon afterwards, the sketch was recognized by art historian Susan J. Barnes as a “surprisingly well preserved” autograph work by Van Dyck, according to Sotheby’s.
He died in August 2021 at the age of 89.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.
Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.
“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.
Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.
The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.
Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.
But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.
The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.
Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.
At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.
Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. “We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.
Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.
Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.
Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”
“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.
But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”
The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.
When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.
It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.
“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.
For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.
Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.
She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.
Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.
“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’