Painting Bought for $900 May Fetch $600,000 at Sotheby's Sale

Philadelphia art collectors Meyer and Vivian Potamkin spent $900 in 1952 on a painting by Theodore Robinson, now considered the father of American Impressionism. Sotheby’s Holdings Inc. tomorrow will offer the work for $400,000 to $600,000.

“The American art market certainly has grown in a very rapid pace and the number of collectors has increased so dramatically that there is greater demand, and as a result prices have shown remarkable appreciation,” said Jon Bourassa, American art expert for the Citigroup Private Bank Art Advisory Services. “Robinsons have sold for $1 million.”

Robinson’s “Boats at a Landing,” painted in 1894, is one of 106 works from the Potamkin collection that Sotheby’s will offer as part of its annual spring American art sale in New York. The trove, which art experts have called one of the most important collections of American art, is expected to bring $9 million to $13.3 million.

Art Market Research, a service that tracks auction prices, found American Impressionist works have increased in value by an annual average of 9 percent each year over the last 25 years. American paintings from the 19th century increased in value an average of 7.6 percent a year during the same period.

Records of the Potamkin purchases from the family’s archives dating to the 1950s reflect the growth of American art prices. Should the Robinson painting sell within its estimate, it will have appreciated 500-fold in 52 years. Adjusted for inflation, the Potamkin’s $900 represents $6,249 today, according to the Federal Reserve Consumer Price Index calculation.

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Published in: on May 21, 2003 at 1:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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