Weekly Roundup: National Gallery Plan Five-Day Strike, Smithsonian Aims to Open London Outpost, and More


In case you missed it, here’s what made headlines in the art world this week:

‘Lost’ Constable sells at auction for $5.2 million
A lost painting sold last year for $5,212 as the work a . John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows, which was purchased for just $5,212 in 2013 at Christie’s after it was attributed to a follower of the artist, fetched $5.2 million this week at an Old Masters sale at Sotheby’s New York. Now credited to the English painter, the canvas is a preparatory oil sketch for an 18303 work that’s owned by the Tate in London. Neither the seller or buyer were identified. [Bloomberg]

Smithsonian aims to open London outpost
Washington’s Smithsonian Institution plans to open its first international exhibition space at a new cultural complex being developed at the former Olympic park in London. The deal would mark the first time in the institution’s 168-year-history that it would have a public presence outside the United States. London Mayor Boris Johnson and the developers of the site have pledged $50 million to the Smithsonian’s piece of the complex. The Smithsonian’s partners in the center that locals have dubbed the “Olympicopolis” are the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and University of the Arts London. The center is expected to open in 2021. [Washington Post]

Canaletto, Caravaggio fail to sell at Christie’s worst Old Masters sale since 2002
A canvas promoted as possibly Caravaggio’s first failed to find a buyer this week at a grim Old Masters painting sale at Christie’s New York. Inflated estimates, a dearth of high-quality work, and a fall in value of the Euro, according to several dealers present, conspired to sink an auction that saw fully 32 out of 54 works fail to find buyers. Among the unlucky lots were examples by Pieter Brueghel II, Canaletto, Pieter Claesz, Guido Reni and Theodoor Rombouts. [artnet news]

Workers at London’s National Gallery plan five-day strike
Employees at the National Gallery have voted in favor of a five-day strike in response to the museum’s decision to outsource visitor and security services to a private company, a change that would affect approximately 400 of the 600 staff members. The gallery, which does not have an entrance fee, cited decreased government funding and the need to find new revenue as reasons for the decision. About 250 employees who are members of the Public and Commercial Services union voted in favor of the strike, which is planned for February 3-7. The gallery is expected to remain open throughout the strike. [New York Times]

“Casket find could lead to remains of “Don Quixote” author Miguel de Cervantes
Researchers looking for the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes have found part of a casket at a Madrid convent bearing the initials of the Don Quixote author. Cervantes is recorded ass having being buried at the convent’s chapel a day after his death on April 22, 1616, but the exact whereabouts of his gravve are unknown. Using infrared cameras, 3D scanners and radar, a team of archaeologists identified 33 alcoves where bones could be stored. These researchers will now rely on war injuries suffered by Cervantes to help them identify the remains. [The Guardian]

Sotheby’s announces increase to auction buyers’ premium
In a bid to further ramp up profitability amid leadership changes and tight margins, Sotheby’s announced a change to the premium it charges buyers at auction in a filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Starting February 1st, the new rate structure charged to buyers at auction, on top of the hammer price of a work, will be 25 percent of the first $200,000 of the hammer price; 20 percent on the portion of the hammer price above $200,000 up to and including $3 million; and 12 percent on any remaining amount $3 million. [artnet news]

Image: Detail of John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral From the Meadows