Rogers Jones reveals best total
Welsh auction house Rogers Jones passed sales of £3m for the first time in 2021. The firm, conducting auctions in both Cardiff and Colwyn Bay, said the rise in average lot value, the creation of specialist departments and the increased spending power of many buyers during the pandemic had led to its best-ever aggregate.
Ben Rogers Jones told ATG he had sold 343 lots for prices over £1000 in 2021, compared to 240 in 2020, while website traffic was up by 18%.
Welsh art continued to contribute handsomely to the bottom line: in 2021 the firm achieved record prices for a Sir Kyffin Williams oil, work on paper and print. However, Rogers Jones also said it had been the best year for ‘non- Welsh items’. Wristwatches, jewellery, rugby collectables and Asian arts are all disciplines now covered by specialist valuers.
The firm marks its 30th anniversary in 2022. Founder David Rogers Jones is still busy valuing, over 60 years since his first auction in 1961.
Alert after spate of postbox thefts
Royal Mail is on alert after a number of vintage postboxes were stolen in Suffolk and Norfolk in recent weeks, with fears they are being sold online.
Reported instances include Wixoe, Cowlinge, Hawkeden, Stoke by Clare, Chedburgh and Depden Green in Suffolk; and in Norfolk at Ashwicken near King’s Lynn and in East End, High Street in Thornham, near Hunstanton.
Police said the boxes taken are not the modern examples but those featuring the royal cypher of George V or George VI. However, it is believed all those taken were lamp boxes on posts rather than pillar boxes (the larger free-standing versions).
Royal Mail said it is planning to replace those that are missing.
Sotheby’s and Louvre link-up
The Louvre has agreed a partnership with Sotheby’s to research the provenance of artworks acquired between 1933-45 by the museum.
It has drawn up an action plan which includes research, films, lectures and educational projects. Sotheby’s is sponsoring the activities for a three-year period. The firm said it was the first international auction house to have a department dedicated to provenance research and restitution, which was founded in 1997.
A large part of its operation is to help current owners of works of art that were moved between 1933-45 to research the history of these works and, subsequently, to find a solution to claims in the best interests of all parties. In a statement the Louvre said: “The spoliation of art and cultural objects belonging mainly to Jewish families was systematic during the occupation. France is, in this sense, generally considered to be one of the countries most affected by the spoliation of works of art.”
FIAC loses Grand Palais autumn slot
Paris’ long-running annual fair devoted to Contemporary art, FIAC, the Foire Internationale D’Art Contemporain, has lost its slot at the Grand Palais to Art Basel and Masterpiece London owner MCH Group.
The Grand Palais owner Réunion des musées nationaux put the autumn slot out to tender and MCH won the bid. It now plans its own Contemporary art fair in the French capital this autumn.
RX France, the parent company of FIAC and Paris Photo, will continue to organise the latter fair in November.
While the Grand Palais undergoes a major renovation fairs will take place at the purpose-built Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champ-de- Mars in 2022 and 2023.
Biddell returns to dealing full time
After three years as head of paintings and fine art at Chiswick Auctions, Adrian Biddell has left the west London saleroom and returned to dealing full time.
Formerly head of 19th century European paintings at Sotheby’s where he spent 27 years, he later joined London gallery Waterhouse & Dodd for two years before setting up as an independent dealer in 2017.
He continued to run Adrian Biddell Fine Art alongside his work as an auctioneer but, having left Chiswick just before Christmas, he will now focus on working with private clients.
Speaking to ATG, he said he had “three enjoyable and fruitful years” with the auction house but felt that the time was right for him to move, with his dealing work “proving to be extremely busy”.
Specialising in works from 1850-1930, Biddell said that he was also active in other sectors, recently selling a Dutch Golden Age painting to a French institution.
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The number of years since Thomas Gainsborough’s masterpiece The Blue Boy left the UK after it was bought by US railway pioneer Henry Edwards Huntington (it cost $728,000 – the most expensive picture ever sold at the time). Last week it went on display at the National Gallery in London where it is on loan until May 15.