Wednesday, December 9

Raphael Rakes in Record

Raphael, Head of a Muse, 1510-1511

This chalk drawing by Raphael was just sold by Christie's last night for a mind blowing £29.1 million ($48 million). The drawing was part of a series of sketches made for this fresco in the Vatican Library:

From Raphael's Parnassus 1510-111
The Vatican

Check out that eye-less mask the redheaded muse is holding, creepy. That's the guy/girl? from the sketch on the right, wearing the poofy hat:

Raphael's Parnassus 1510-111
The Vatican Library

Full coverage of last night's auction can be found in today's Wall Street Journal. WSJ art writer Kelly Crow seems to think it was a good buy at its predicted price of $24 million, but that the bidder got a bit overzealous when he drove the price up to almost $50 million. Talk about blowing all of your money in one place! Ms. Kelly does provide evidence that this Raphael has shown a good return on investment (8.1%) over the last 159 years. Now whether the mystery buyer will get his money back this time around is a good question. He may have overpaid.

But lucky for him, buying a Raphael is kind of like investing in gold-- it will never be worth zero and the chances of it falling out of fashion are slim to none. If he were to buy a more modern work, say, something by Jackson Pollock for example, he may lose out on resale value if the painting loses its appeal. Contemporary art hasn't proven its staying power yet, while the masters of the Italian Renaissance have things pretty well locked up.

For more of Ms. Crow's thoughts on this sale, read her column at the WJS Speakeasy.

*1:15 pm: I just caught a seriously embarrassing spelling error. If you read this post prior to the correction I'm sure you know exactly what I am talking about. Please do not judge me-- I'm fighting what I am pretty sure is the flu (not swine, just regular) and my spell checker betrayed me big time this morning!

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