Christie's to offer Rembrandt estimated at $41 million

Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:09pm EDT
 
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Christie's will offer for sale what it calls a Rembrandt "masterpiece" in December, and expects to fetch up to 25 million pounds ($41 million) in what would be an auction record for the artist.

The painting, titled "Portrait of a man, half-length, with his arms akimbo," was painted in 1658 and has been unseen in public for nearly 40 years.

The last time it was sold at auction was in 1930 when it fetched 18,500 pounds, or today's equivalent of nearly six million pounds.

"We look forward to welcoming international collectors and institutions from around the world to what will be a landmark auction in the history of the European art market on December 8 at Christie's in London," said Richard Knight, co-head of Old Masters and 19th century art.

With a pre-sale estimate of 18-25 million pounds, one of the most valuable paintings to come to auction for some time will be seen as a key barometer of the strength of the art market, which has contracted sharply during the financial crisis.

The work will go on public display from December 4-8.

Soon after the painting was sold at auction in 1930, it was acquired privately by George Huntington Hartford II, an art collector and heir to a large fortune.

Hartford donated the work to Columbia University in 1958, and when students occupied the president's office in 1968 during a demonstration, it was removed and put into storage.   Continued...