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Auction results of the Rafael Valls sale at Sotheby’s

Sectio from James Baker Pyne, 'Lyme Regis

James Baker Pyne, ‘Lyme Regis’

David Dallas, Old Master Specialist

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In mid-March I drew your attention to the upcoming sale of 100 Old Masters consigned to Sotheby’s by the West End dealer Rafael Valls. The entire sale was to be online in the first week of April. As the time drew nigh and the Corona virus started to truly bite I began to regret my final sentence which went “a sale in cyber-space could be the way forward.”

James Baker Pyne, 1800-1870 'Lyme Regis'

James Baker Pyne, 1800-1870
‘Lyme Regis’
Estimate (quite correctly in my opinion) £2,000-£3,000
Realised £30,000, which makes it the 3rd most expensive J B Pyne ever auctioned and almost three times the price of his 6ft masterpiece “The Vales of Ennerdale and Buttermere” which Sotheby’s sold in February of last year.


Italo-Flemish School, 17th Century 'Portrait of a Gentleman'

Italo-Flemish School, 17th Century
‘Portrait of a Gentleman’
Estimate £8,000-£12,000
Realised £275,000


I need not have worried. The sale was a complete and utter triumph! 98 of the 100 paintings sold, which is an extraordinary statistic and the prices achieved were also exceptional. The first lot went for five times the top estimate and this set the tone for the rest of the sale. The sale total was £1.6m.

Dutch School, circa 1640 'Portrait of a young girl'

Dutch School, Circa 1640
‘Portrait of a young girl’
Estimated at £8,000-£12,000
Realised £81,250


Raf, as he is universally known, has, with Simon Dickinson and Richard Knight, the greatest breadth of knowledge in paintings of anyone I know. I like his taste, the pictures were all in good state and he and Sotheby’s had estimated them at sensible levels. Nevertheless, what the auction results were an unexpected beacon of hope for the market at a desperately gloomy time.