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€2.5 million discoveries of the week: Goya, Stubbs and Kokoshka

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A pristine set of Goya’s famous bullfighting etchings is "a once in a lifetime discovery". Keen attention is also paid to the George Stubbs paintings which were mistakingly sold for pennies last year. In Vienna, six dozens of canvases were found, including an art work by Kokoshka, that were stolen in a Hollywood-style art heist in 2014.

La Tauromaquia etchings by Goya

The path from the royal court in Madrid in 1815 to the French Château in 1831, and then to the auction in 2017 has made the complete collection of Francisco Goya’s etchings La Tauromaquia, which the new owners of the Château de Montigny have recently discovered in northern France.
An intact pristine set of 33 famous bullfighting etchings has been discovered in an old library, which has not been revised for more than 150 years. A drab ledger holding the etchings "lurked" at the back of one shelf. Apparently the set was acquired by the marquis Anne-Adrien-Pierre de Montmorency-Laval, possibly as a diplomatic gift for he was an ambassador in Madrid from 1814 to 1823. Even in his days the complete set was a rarity, as the etchings sold out as separate prints. Many exemplars of the first edition printed for the artist from copper plates he etched himself, are now in libraries and museums.
The world record for Goya prints was set at Christie’s in New York four years ago, when a complete set of La Tauromaquia went under the hammer for $1.9 million. Now specialists at Sotheby’s in London, where the set will be sold on April 4th, cautiously valued it at up to £500,000 ($625,000). However, everybody is sure enough that the collection costs much more.
The present owners of Château de Montigny sell their precious discovery "because like most owners of a French chateau, they need to invest in the building," Severine Nackers, head of prints at Sotheby’s in London, commented.

Stubbs' horses

The fact that the major auction houses make mistakes was proven by a story happened to the art work by the British animal painter George Stubbs (1724 — 1806), which became one of the highlights of this year’s British Antique Dealers Association (BADA) fair in London.

Canvas titled "Two Hacks, the property of Henry Ulrick Reay Esq of Burn Hall Co. Durham and their blue-liveried groom in a landscape" was put up for an auction at Christie’s in New York last year. The auctioneers and the seller, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, incorrectly catalogued it as a copy "after Stubbs" and valued at $3,000-$5,000. However, experts guessed the painting might cost more than it seemed, and as a result, the hammer fell at around $175,000, with commission, it came to $215,000 (£176,000). The buyer was the UK dealer Archie Parker.
After the sale, the TV art historian Dr. Bendor Grosvenor of the BBC’s Fake or Fortune, called the mistake of the auctioneers "one of the biggest deaccessioning blunders of modern times."


The confusion over the authenticity of the artwork arose because there is another version of the same scene kept in a private collection. Both of them were conflated into one painting in the catalogue raisonné of George Stubbs paintings published in 2007. It brought about the assumption that the Huntington painting was a copy. However, Parker’s business partner was able to prove that it was painted a year before its "twin".
George Stubbs. Whistlejacket
George Stubbs is regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, painter of horses.
His masterpiece Whistlejacket (1762) is one of the National Gallery’s best-loved paintings.
The Parker Gallery Ltd is now selling the masterpiece by Stubbs for £750,000 at BADA fair. Archie Parker admits the price would be more if no one knew how much he had paid for it.

Hollywood-style art heist

Austrian police has recovered 67 artworks stolen from a private Viennese collection in €2.5 million art heist in 2014. That year the brazen burglary was carried out in a stylish Hollywood movie-like manner. While a homeowner was away on her vacation, the perpetrators disabled the alarm system, accessed the home and drove out the paintings in a truck. The 73-year-old woman has only discovered the theft when she came back and found the walls of her home had been stripped bare.
A total of 71 works by Austrian expressionists including Carl Moll, Koloman Moser, and Oskar Kokoschka, were stolen by the burglars. Four works valued at around €50,000 are still missing.
Police assumes that the art heist was carried out by professionals from an internationally active Eastern European criminal gang. However, the identities of the criminals have not yet been recovered, and no one has been detained yet. The paintings will remain in police custody while the investigation continues.
Written by Vlad Maslow on materials of The Guardian, blouinartinfo.com, news.artnet.com and other sources.
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