During his life time, Paul H. Buchanan, Jr. didn’t start collecting 19th century American art early enough to beat the market trend. But he was willing to pay a little bit extra to catch up. Like the other great collectors, consoissership comes first, investment comes more or less as a reward for patience and insistence.
Today Heritage Galleries auctioned his collection with a strong upbeat result. Not only the percentage of sold lot sis very high, but also the majority items fetched prices closer to or above the upper end of the estimations. In particular, Martin Johnson Heade took the spot light with two paintings sold for more than half a million dollars and one tropical exotic birds painting fetched more than $300,000.
On one hand Heritage may be slightly conservative in appraisal considering the current economy; on the other hand, the prices, in particular of Heade’s paintings are equivalent to those realized in 2005 or 2006. Although it is still too early to say that economy is getting back, the sign of rebounding art market in the awakening of qualify blue chips shows that perhaps the market is climbing out of the nadir.
In one interesting case, a painting by Bruce Crane, one of the last few paintings aquired by the collector, is very similar to the painting shown at Newark Museum last year. Mr. Buchanan bought the painting from Spanierman Gallery of New York when the gallery had the exhibition “The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism” in 2005. The price tag from the original list was $25,000 at that time. The painting was sold to a phone bidder, maybe the gallery bought it back?