Thomas Patch painting
A view of the River Arno in Florence with the Ponte alle Grazie by British painter Thomas Patch. It is offered by Robilant Fine Art at the Sotheby’s auction ‘The Dealer’s Eye: London’ with an estimate of £200,000-300,000.

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The dedicated sales will be held concurrently from June 18-25 with one run out of London, the other from New York. The idea was conceived by Otto Naumann, a longstanding Old Master dealer himself who joined Sotheby’s in 2018 and is now the company’s client development director for this category. He described the initiative as “our own version of an art fair”.

Each work will be designated to the dealer who is consigning it, and each participating dealer will have a bespoke page on the Sotheby’s website displaying the three works which they have selected for either sale. For the dealers, it represents an opportunity to bring pictures to the market at a time when other options are limited with fairs being cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis and exhibitions harder to stage.

The development follows two recent online auctions of dealers’ collections at Sotheby's which were well received: the sale of 100 works from Rafael Valls in early April that raised a premium-inclusive £1.6m and the auction of 141 works from Daniel Katz that raised £2.27m.

The upcoming London sale (branded ‘The Dealer’s Eye: London’) will offer 66 lots from 22 dealers and will feature paintings by artists including Jacopo Bassano, Thomas Gainsborough and Anthony Van Dyck.

One of the dealers who is participating is Charles Beddington who said: “This sale is particularly welcome during a period when online auctions of Old Master paintings are doing particularly well, confounding those inclined to see this as a field not particularly suited to selling online.

“At the same time, Old Master dealers currently have limited access to their clients, and are bound to find particularly welcome the wide exposure provided by collaboration with Sotheby’s.”

Among other dealers represented in the London sale are Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker, Day & Faber, Benappi Fine Art, Robilant Fine Art and Caylus Gallery of Madrid.

Meanwhile, the sale in New York will offer 51 works from 17 dealers. Among the participants is Richard L. Feigen & Co and Puppa Sayn-Wittgenstein Nottebohm of the New York gallery said: “With exhibitions currently on pause, The Dealer’s Eye auction offers our community an opportunity to reach new clients and promote our artists and their extraordinary work to an international audience.”

Other dealers consigning works are Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, Adam Williams Fine Art, Salomon Lilian and Galerie Sanct Lucas.

Naumann said: “Before I joined Sotheby’s in 2018, I spent more than 30 years as an Old Master dealer, traveling across the world to bring wonderful works of art to interested buyers, many times at major art fairs such as TEFAF Maastricht, Frieze Masters, and Masterpiece London. With The Dealer’s Eye, we’ve created our own version of an art fair, where dealers can continue to promote the works that make their individual galleries so unique.”