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David Janis

The financial world has been quick to draw this comparison but I think it is flimsy.

The Van Gogh painting is not considered among his most desirable. It is much tamer and the colors flatter than his great work. The number of collectors and institutions prepared to make a purchase of a Van Gogh painting at a given moment is rather small. At auction, your market has to be present, it is a one shot deal. This coupled with the fact that the painting had been shopped around in the preceding year (without success) conspired to curtail its viability on the auction block. However, the possibility remains of a post auction private sale by the auction house, if the seller is willing to entertain an offer lower than the low estimate. A similar result - going bidless - could have occurred 1,2, or 3 years ago I think.

Outstanding examples by blue chip artists did bring record prices last week on the auction block and may again next week during the Post War and Contemporary sales. For example someone paid 12 million for Giacometti's portrait of "Caroline". (I have bought and sold several Giacometti paintings, but not a Van Gogh)

A great Van Gogh fresh to the market probably would have brought a great price.

But, if your comparison is that dumb money chases less than stellar paintings by great names to record heights, and that the credit crunch has evidently choked off some of that dumb money supply, time will tell.

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