Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What recession and other musings – the case of Gemini VI

I was sent a copy of the Gemini VI sale catalogue yesterday in “dead tree” format (excellent, you can’t beat having these in hard copy), although it is available to browse online HERE.

A good selection of Greek, Roman (imperial and provincial) coins on offer, although sadly, or perhaps fortunately, no Carausius to tempt me.

The star of the sale though, whatever your interests, has to be the Byzantine gold medallion of Tiberius II Constantine (pictured above) with an estimate of $2,500,000, and this got me thinking about the global recession and what the potential market would be for such a piece of “bling”.

Only yesterday a Rembrandt and a Raphael sold in London for a total approaching £50,000,000, the Raphael, estimated at £16 million and making £29.2 million being a record for a work on paper, demonstrating that there is still money available to invest in works of art.

I was also intrigued by the actual description of the medallion, in particular the state of preservation being described as ” Two parts of the original frame had become separated and the medallion itself had a slightly wavy surface. These have been resolved as were two very minor scrapes”. How much work has been done, when and what did it look like before? Such restoration work has provoked much comment on message boards with quite divided opinions when they have come to light in the past. I’m pleased that this work has been noted in the description and I wonder whether it really does materially affect the article’s value in either direction? Some would argue that restoration would reduce its worth while others the enhanced beauty would increase it.

I, for one, will be looking for the outcome of the Gemini sale and the result of this piece in particular. Will there be a buyer or not and at what price?