Sotheby’s Old Masters week ignites keen interest from Asia and Russia


The Old Masters Week auctions at Sotheby’s London realised a total of £64.1m, with Lucas Cranach the Elder’s La Bocca della Verità selling for a record £9.3m, the highest price for any Old Master sold at auction this year.

The Old Master & British paintings and drawings sale saw keen interest from Asia, with twice as many Asian buyers compared to last year’s equivalent sales. There was also an 18% increase in Russian bidders.

Nine new artists’ records were established in Old Masters and British paintings, including the sale of Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s unfinished portrait of the artist’s family for £2.8m; the sale of one of the earliest Italian still lifes, by female artist Fede Galizia, for £1.6m and the sale of John Martin’s Paradise-Lost–inspired masterpiece for £2.7m.

Ferdinand Bol’s Portrait of a boy (1652), realised £5.2m, a new record for the artist at auction, and nearly four times the previous record of £1.36m.

“As the market continues to evolve for great art of the past, we’re seeing an ever more discerning and international collector base vying for an ever broader range of material. Whether it’s a painting that transcends genres, such as Cranach’s masterpiece, or an evocative Roman vase from Nero’s palace, we’ve seen both new and established buyers from all corners of the globe competing in our rooms this season,” said Alex Bell, joint international head and co-chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings department.