Private Sale Pay-Off: This is smart business

The previous owner of Albert Robinson's "Going to Mass, Cacouna", 1921 netted more than any collector has received for a Robinson sketch recorded at auction.

The previous owner of Albert Robinson's "Going to Mass, Cacouna", 1921 netted more than any collector has received for a Robinson sketch recorded at auction.

We have just paid to the former owner of the most handsome Albert H. Robinson painting illustrated on this newsletter what we believe is the highest price a collector has received for an oil sketch by Robinson.  One traditionally would not expect a re-seller to brag about a purchase at such an elevated price and that is not specifically the intention of its mention.  Our objective is in fact to reiterate our belief that in most cases a prospective seller of an outstanding work of art is well-served from the perspectives of both price reward and risk management by selling through or to a “fixed price gallery”  like Galerie Walter Klinkhoff.

At the outset of the dialogue concerning the prospective sale  of “Going To Church, Cacouna, 1921”, the owner was uncertain how much to ask for the picture.  We responded by providing verifiable details describing sales of what we believe are the most expensive Albert Robinson sketches ever sold.  Our appreciation of this picture is that it is a tremendously important sketch, energetically described, aesthetically a most handsome composition painted during what may be his most famous trip, one to Cacouna, joining A.Y. Jackson who had preceded him there, where Robinson also painted the sketch for “Returning from Easter Mass”.  Also, in our opinion, “Going To Church, Cacouna” is an outstanding sketch, fresh to the market, becoming available in what for us may be the optimum time, away from that season of over supply when auction catalogues are distributed and subsequently auction sales conducted. We think that the vendor,  achieving a formidable price payable in full upon delivery, did a great bit of business, merited and entirely without financial risk to the seller.

Robinson's "Returning from Easter Mass", 1921, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, was inspired by the same trip to Cacouna. (Photo: National Gallery of Canada)

Robinson's "Returning from Easter Mass", 1921, in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, was inspired by the same trip to Cacouna. (Photo: National Gallery of Canada)

Admittedly, we come to the aforementioned conclusion with a certain bias, however, reviewing independently available prices at auction for sketches by Robinson one remarks that the highest price at auction was for a painting accompanied with an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000, suggesting that the vendor risked that the picture in the absence of competition, could have sold for  as little as $30,000.  In our recent experience we ourselves successfully bid on a stunning Robinson in a commercial auction sale (November 19, 2008 and lot # 165), purchasing it cheaply under only modest competition, that opinion confirmed when  as I was leaving the salesroom a colleague came up to me and unaware that we had bought the picture, inquiring to me as to why various works of art sold for surprisingly low prices, she pointed to the catalogue illustration of “our” newly acquired Robinson and asked candidly:  “What was the matter with this one?”  Replying that we had bought it was self explanatory to her, meaning both that it was indeed a perfect picture and that in our opinion too it had sold much less than one should have expected.

In conclusion, allow us to suggest that if you are considering the sale of of an important work of art we encourage you to contact us for a confidential consultation.

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