But since the 2008-09 art market crash, only five works by the former miner have sold for £100,000 or above and these days any work that gets close to that amount is a notable result.
The latest came at the Lyon & Turnbull Post-war and Contemporary art sale when Fish Teas, a 23½ x 19¾in (60 x 50cm) signed oil on canvas, drew interest from multiple private buyers against a £30,000-50,000 estimate and sold at £80,000 to an international buyer.
Depicting a smartly dressed man smoking on a seafront promenade and a woman in a 1950s style dress, it had the strong sexual undercurrent present in so many of Vettriano’s compositions and was conceived in his unmistakeable blunt-edged style with strongly contrasting use of light and shadow.
It dated from a period close to the highpoint of his career (the late 1990s-early 2000s) and these ‘cinematic’ subjects appear to be a particular favourite of collectors. A possible commercial boost may have come from the saltire flying in the background – despite this work selling overseas, a large proportion of Vettriano collectors are Scottish.
“You don’t see many of this quality and this ‘type’ on the market any more; the last similar example was in 2018,” said L&T’s head of sale Charlotte Riordan. “Its relative scarcity certainly helped.”
She added: “The steep level of competition could be a sign that the artist’s market is potentially climbing back up to the heady prices he commanded 10 years ago.”
Although prices still have a long way to go before reaching comparable levels, this was Vettriano’s highest auction price for four years.