The timed online auction that closed on May 27 raised £2.27m including premium with 130 of the 141 lots sold (92.2%).
The sale offered a range of antiquities, Old Masters, 19th century paintings, Modern British art and European sculpture – the latter being the field in which Katz’s first started as a dealer before broadening his interests as a major art collector across multiple disciplines.
Katz said: “As I near my 72nd birthday I want to slow down my business and work differently, turning my focus to my interests in philanthropy, academia, music, dance and neurology. This is an opportunity for others to start collecting. An opportunity for people who are spending more time in their homes right now to explore and buy something reasonably priced and beautiful, and when they get them home, to enjoy them as much as I have.”
The sale of 10 of the works helped raise funds for two national charities, Refuge and Trussell Trust.
Sotheby’s reported that bidders at the auction came from over 30 countries with an average of four bidders competing for each lot.
The Roman bronze of a right arm bent at the elbow was among the lots bringing international competition. It originally came from a near life-size figure, thought the be either a youth holding a lamp or tray, or possibly Artemis shooting a bow.
The arm was cast separately from the rest of the sculpture into which it would have been socketed and soldered in place, but it subsequently broke off directly below the shoulder. Having been in a private collection up to 2019, it was appearing at auction for the first time and, estimated at £30,000-50,000, it drew 28 bids before it eventually sold at £140,000 (plus 25/20/13.9% premium).
Pictures in demand
A number of pictures in the sale also drew multi-estimate sums.
These included a watercolour of Italy by English Romantic painter Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-28), which surpassed a £40,000-60,000 estimate and sold at £110,000. Katz had acquired it at a Sotheby’s auction in November 2007 for £70,100.
Dating from c.1827, the view of the Castello Estense in Ferrara, the medieval castle in the centre of the northern Italian city, was likely executed during or shortly after a tour of Italy that the artist made with his friend and patron Baron Charles Rivet during that year.
An ‘on the spot’ pencil drawing which served as the basis for the finished watercolour remained in Bonington’s studio until his untimely death at the age of 27. At his estate sale in 1829, it was acquired by the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne.
This watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour, which measured 7.5 x 6in (19 x 15cm), also had a distinguished provenance. It once belonged to Louis-Philippe Albert Orléans, Comte de Paris, the grandson of the last King of France. Along with its fine condition and fresh colours, this also added to its appeal commercially and helped it to command no fewer than 19 bids.
Also selling for £110,000 and overshooting a £15,000-20,000 estimate was a Walter Sickert (1860-1942) view of Dieppe which received 36 bids.
Coin de la Rue Sainte Catherine, Dieppe, a 15 x 18.25in (38 x 47cm) signed oil on canvas, dated from c.1899 and was part of the considerable body of work the artist produced on his regular visits to the Normandy resort over four decades, as well as his permanent residence there between 1898-1905.
This view of a street corner features a glimpse of the town’s cathedral St Jacques to the left and was very much a known work, featuring in books and public exhibitions dedicated to the artist including, most recently, the Sickert in Dieppe show at Chichester’s Pallant House Gallery in 2015.
Sotheby’s reported that the results for the Katz sale helped the auction house break the $100m barrier in terms of the turnover generated by online sales so far this year – the current figure is now $129m including premium from 77 sales with a further 40 online auctions planned for June.
Dealer sales have played a notable part in this. The Katz sale followed the £1.6m auction of 100 works from fellow dealer Rafael Valls held in April.
Following this, Sotheby’s has now announced yet another online auction of around 44 works from the estate of artist and sculptor William Turnbull. The sale is in collaboration with art dealer Offer Waterman who has exclusively represented the estate in the UK since 2015.
The sale will offer a range of pictures and sculptures across a wide variety of price-levels, with estimates starting at just a few hundred pounds and running to £30,000-50,000 for the bronze Venus.