Salvator Mundi Update 700 1005 Kathy

Salvator Mundi Update

My first blog was on the subject of the most expensive painting ever sold, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”. It seemed like a good place to start, was very topical, and I promised to keep readers up to date with events surrounding this most famous of paintings.

I had thought at the time that my next blog on the subject would be much later in the year or in early 2019, when the various experts had given their opinions as to the authenticity of the painting, and specifically, how much of it had been painted by Leonardo himself, and how much by his pupils and assistants.

Or is it? This is the question setting art experts against each other asking how much of the painting did Leonardo actually paint himself?

However, events are moving on rapidly, and when I opened The Art Newspaper,
https://www.theartnewspaper.com/salvator-mundi, I find that the seller of the painting, the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, is suing auction house Sotheby’s for $380 million in a Manhattan federal court.

This is not in any way connected with the authenticity of the painting, but as part of a decade long relationship and dispute with Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art dealer, who Rybolovlev accuses of conducting the “largest art fraud in history”. Rybolovlev claims that of the 38 paintings that Bouvier sold him over a ten year period, for a total price of $2 billion, Sotheby’s was involved in the sale of 14 of these paintings, including Salvator Mundi, overcharging Rybolovlev by up to $1 billion.

Court papers reveal that Bouvier was the mastermind in this alleged fraud, buying the paintings at much lower prices than he then sold on at to Rybolovlev, and that Sotheby’s was complicit in this fraud, adding it weight and reputation to Bouvier to obtain high commissions and fees from the resulting sales.

Of course this latest law suit is part of a long line of suit and counter suit, Sotheby’s jointly with Bouvier suing Rybolovlev, with suits filed not only in New York but also in Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bern and Geneva.

The list of works involved in this alleged fraud is indeed impressive. We have Wasserschlanger II (Water Serpents) by Gustav Klimt, bought by Bouvier for $112 million and sold to Rybolovlev for $187 million, in 2012;

there is Modigliani’s Nu Couche au Coussin Blue (Nude Reclining on a Blue Cushion), bought by Bouvier for $95 million and sold to Rybolovlev for $120 million, also in 2012.

Then there is Salvator Mundi. Bought for an estimated $84 million by Bouvier with Sotheby’s involved in the private purchase and later resale by Bouvier to Rybolovlev at a price of $129 million, in 2013.

The problem for Rybolovlev is this, though.

Salvator Mundi was sold on his behalf by Christie’s in November 2107, to the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, for $450 million, resulting in a profit of over $300 million for Rybolovlev.

Bit difficult to claim a fraud against you when you walk away with a $300 million profit!!

painting in frame


In many respects, choosing the right framing option for your oil painting is as an important decision as selecting the painting itself, but is often an overlooked part of the process.

Hand-painted oil on canvas works of art are generally rolled and shipping in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and framing locally.

Choosing a decorative frame is a very personal decision and having the opportunity to see the painted canvas alongside the frame of choice allows the best opportunity to select the perfect framing option.

There are hundred of decorative frames to choose from and also other options without a decorative frame and knowing where to start can be a daunting task.

1. The History of Picture Framing

Historically, picture frames can be dated all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, with a wooden framed picture found in a tomb in Egypt dating back nearly 2000 years. Picture frames as we know them today first started to appear in Europe in the 12 and 13th centuries, and were always made of carved wood, and usually gilded. These frames are often works of art in their own right. This is the traditional picture frame that we all think of, and is what we see when visiting museums, where a large percentage of the paintings hanging are in very elaborate carved wood frames, with gilding, especially the Old Masters, but all the way up to more recent Impressionist works by Picasso and Van Gogh, for example.

2. Gallery Wrap Options for Contemporary Art in a Modern Setting

Not every painting requires an outside decorative frame.

A Gallery Wrap or Museum Wrap offers an very cost effective method of display and no external decorative frame is used.

So what is the difference?

A Gallery Wrap finish generally refers to a process where the image is continued so that it wraps over the sides of the wooden frame, known as stretcher bars, and the surplus canvas is stapled to the back of the frame.

Examples of this process are shown below:

Gallery Wrap paintings can be stretched on different thickness of stretcher bars from 3/4″ to 2″ or even 3″ depth, depending on the size of the canvas and also the room.

A Museum Wrap is where the image remains visible on the front of the frame, whilst a solid or white color canvas is wrapped over the sides of the stretcher bars.  In this case the canvas is also stapled to the back of the stretcher bars.

3. Floater Frames

Floater Frames provide a high-end look to any painting, either contemporary or classical.  A floater frame creates the impression that the canvas is floating inside the frame but not touch it.  Here you can see some samples of floating frames.  There is a wide choice of outside floater frames, either wood, solid color, gold or silver.

4. How to Select a Decorative Frame for your Painting

Often a painting will provide the answers to what kind of frame works well but any frame should enhance the content of the paintings.  If you have purchased, for example,  a reproduction Impressionist painting, then you may want to consider how some famous original paintings from this movement are displayed in Museums all over the world.

As a rule of thumb, larger paintings generally demand wider moldings but ask your framer for advice, as he or she will have a wealth of knowledge to share about the variety of frames available from a large number of suppliers.

Swinton’s Art has a great blog covering all aspects of framing and where to start!

henri matisse odalisque with magnolias
ART EVENTS 1024 757 Kathy


2018 has thus far been a milestone year for art, with records being broken across the board for individual paintings and for art sales by a single family or collection.


The standout event so far this year, unlikely to be surpassed, was the Rockefeller auction at Christie’s in New York, this May. The family of the late David and Peggy Rockefeller has decided to auction some 1600 of their artworks over a three day period, and donate the proceeds to charity. The spectacular results totaling $832 million shattered twenty two world records, including the record for the most money raised from a single client sale.

The most expensive single item was a nude by Picasso, “Girl with a Flower Basket”, which sold for $115 million. Monet’s Nympheas en Fleur or Water Lilies in Bloom sold for a record $87.4 million and a Matisse, “Odalisque Reclining with Magnolias” sold for a record $80.7 million. Diego Rivera’s “The Rivals’ a painting commissioned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller from Rivera, in 1931, sold for $9.76 million, the highest price ever paid for both a Rivera and for a Latin American artist. Willem de Kooning’s “Untitled XIX, 1982” sold for $14.3 million, and a John Singer Sargent’s painting of the Grand Canal Venice, San Geremia 1913 sold for $9 million, the third highest price recorded for the artist. Considerable excitement came from the sale, at $10 million, but estimated at only $1 million, of a portrait of President George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. The woman bidder did not publicly disclose her identity but was later reported as working with Bloomberg chief Michael Bloomberg.


The beneficiaries of the sale will include Harvard University and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which owes its existence to the Rockefeller family.


Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couche (sur le cote gauche)” sold for a record $157 million in May at Sotheby’s, the most expensive artwork the auction has sold on its 274 year history. The same painting had sold in 2003 for $26.9 million, and indication of the soaring prices achieved in the art market in recent decades.


In the same Sotheby’s sale Mary Cassatt’s “A Goodnight Hug” sold for nearly 4 times the $ 1million estimate, at $3.8 million. Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Lake George” sold for $9.8 million, and Tamara de Lempicka’s “Les Jeunes Filles” sold for $3.6 million.

Other sales included an Edvard Munch, “Summer Night” sold for $9.8 million and Fernand Leger’s “La Damier Jaune” sold for $5 million. The Rockefeller auction saw a painting by Georgia O’Keefe, “Near Abiquiu, New Mexico” sell at $8.41 million, the painting coming from O’Keeffe’s first visit to New Mexico in 1931.


The Barney Ebsworth sale is due in November, at Christie’s in New York. The collection is described as the finest collection of American modernism to ever come to the market. There is an element of controversy as the star item to be included in the sale is Edward Hopper’s iconic “Chop Suey”, described as the most important work by Hopper in private hands. It is reported that Ebsworth promised the painting to the Seattle Museum of Art, in 2007, and he was both a major benefactor to the museum as well as a trustee. The Hopper is estimated at $70 million, but due to the rarety of Hoppers available for purchase, the final sales price could go far higher. Other auction items will include Jackson Pollock’s “Composition with Red Strokes” estimated at $50 million, and Willem de Kooning’s “Woman as Landscape at $60 million. Other sales items will include works by Joan Mitchell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Franz Kline, Charles Sheeler and William Glackens

ART MARKET NEWS 1024 555 Kathy


Welcome to the first blog in what will be a regular feature – current news about the art market.

As a leading supplier of hand painted oil on canvas paintings, and with our own studio of professional artists painting every order placed by hand, and using only accredited reference sources, I thought it would be interesting to start the first Art Market News blog with the story of the most expensive painting ever to be sold, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”.

Or is it? This is the question setting art experts against each other asking how much of the painting did Leonardo actually paint himself?

Everyone knows about Leonardo – incredible Renaissance artist, sculptor, inventor, engineer, astronomer, mathematician, architect – in essence one of the most brilliant men who has ever lived.

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world.


The story so far.

Salvator Mundi is a painting of Jesus Christ depicted as the savior of the world, showing Jesus in a Renaissance dress, with his right hand raised and two fingers open, and holding a transparent crystal orb in his left hand, said to represent the heavens. About 20 versions of the painting are known, all painted by followers of Leonardo, and this painting had generally been considered as a copy of the lost original.

The painting was purchased at auction in New Orleans in 2005, for less than $10,000, by a group of art dealers who thought that although the painting at the time was described as a wreck, it might turn out to be the long lost original.

After restoration and cleaning, and attribution to Leonardo by experts at the National Gallery in London, it was exhibited at the National Gallery in 2011, and then sold to Russian collector Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127 million.

After extensive research by the world’s leading art experts, the painting was confirmed as the original and sold at auction by Christie’s in New York in 2017 to the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism for their newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, for $450 million, the most expensive painting ever sold, either at auction or privately.


Where are we now?

It has just been reported that the unveiling of the painting at the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been postponed indefinitely.

Tellingly, the announcement comes just a month after a well known Leonardo specialist, Matthew Landrus, the University of Oxford academic, set out his theory that in fact only about 20 – 30% of the painting had been painted by Leonardo himself and that a Leonardo pupil, Bernadino Luini, Leonardo’s assistant, had painted the rest. Detailed findings will be published soon in Landrus’s new book, “Leonardo da Vinci

Top Leonardo scholar and expert Martin Kemp, from the National Gallery in London who had helped to authenticate the painting originally, was scathing in his defense and stated that no such comments would have been made about the authenticity of the painting had it not been for the amount of the sale price.

With so much money and prestige involved, there is no doubt that this is a controversy that will run and run, and this blog will keep you informed of all developments. Stay tuned!

ART TRENDS September 2018
ART TRENDS September 2018 864 432 Kathy

ART TRENDS September 2018

ART TRENDS September 2018

Magenta Inspired by Mark Rothko



Online art sales currently stand at some $5.7 billion, and are predicted to rise to $9.6 billion by 2020. By any measure, this is a hugely significant number and shows the power of the internet to attract and generate sales, as well as the increasing sophistication of buyers of art.



As we mention in another blog HERE, until recently, when people came to furnish their homes or workplaces they concentrated only on the furniture, lighting and other interior design accessories, and the art on the walls was very much an afterthought.

This is clearly changing with a better understanding of what art is available for purchase, both original and reproduction, and that art can be purchased easily and affordably online. Having to go to a shop or art gallery, in a more pressured sales environment, is not necessary in today’s connected world. Some online reproduction art companies offer a design service so that you can create your own style and choose your own colors, so you can own an original remix of a famous painting.  Our own Special Commission Services offers this opportunity.


Color field paintings in the style of Mark Rothko, and color splash canvases, following the style of Jackson Pollock are easily refreshed with a modern, original twist, and the great thing about color field and color splash is that you can make your own choices as to the colors used.

A modern take on a Rothko style color field oil painting would be orange and violet as shown above – a real statement! Although available in many sizes, this painting, with its landscape format is perfect to placing over a couch or console table.


For example, a drip and pour painting using ultra violet, pink, aqua and mint gives a wonderfully modern take on the original paintings Pollock painted back in the 1950’s and 60’s.



Magenta Inspired by Jackson Pollock



In late 2017 and early 2018 there were many predictions, posted in online publications and blogs, about future trends in the home décor and art markets that would be seen in 2018. I thought it would be interesting, now that we are in September 2018, to review those trend predictions. Colors most predicted to be popular were purples and mauves, mints and aqua, and pink, all of which have proved to be correct. Famous New Jersey color chart experts Pantone say that their research shows that the color of the year in 2018 is Pantone chart number 18-3838, that’s Ultra Violet to you and me!


PANTONE 18-3838 TCX Ultra Violet

PANTONE 18-3838 TCX Ultra Violet



For wall art, the prediction was for landscapes and portraits, which have always been popular through the centuries, so whilst correct, that was an easy win. Botanical and floral prints and paintings were forecast to be popular in 2018 as well, and have become so, especially when hung low, close to the backs of furniture and mixed with chintz fabrics. This matches the current trend for big, wide, eye catching art; in fact, the bigger the better. Large and framed or with a gallery wrap, entire wall spaces can be transformed with one single huge canvas. These can be botanical, bringing the outdoors inside your home, or for a very modern look, go abstract geometric in bold colors. Wassily Kandinsky paintings lend themselves very well to this approach.



Wassily Kandinsky Paintings



Those in the know see that Face Art paintings are going to become the new trend for the rest of 2018 and for next year as well. This prediction is not just for contemporary works, but also for an upsurge of interest in the works of Matisse with his Blue Nude series of paintings and Paul Klee’s Senecio with its use of vibrant colors, as seen below.


Paul Klee's Senecio

Senecio 1922 By Paul Klee



It’s so easy to bring life and color into your home or office and to transform an uninteresting room into a unique and eye-catching space with the addition fabulous wall art.

We all give great importance to our choice of furniture and soft furnishings and so often the paintings we hang on our walls are an after-thought and the final addition to room.

Prints or Lithos are ok, but they can be expensive and they can never provide the integrity, depth of color and texture of real oil on canvas paintings.

Buying hand painted oil painting reproductions online is an enjoyable way to choose very affordable art by some of the world’s most famous artists.  Large online catalogs can give you the opportunity to view thousands of paintings and to visualize those which work together.

But where do you start?  Here are some tips to make the process easy.


1. Stand back and take an objective look at your room.  What do you want to achieve?

Does your room have a theme you wish to continue?

As an example, do you want to follow-through on an existing monochrome palette?

See for yourself how these striking large abstract-expressionism paintings complete a simple room.


Monochrome Painting

Monochrome Room 2

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Maybe you want to introduce some color into your space with abstract oil paintings?  The photograph below demonstrates how easily and quickly a room can be enhanced with the addition of a reproduction painting.



2. Consider the options – one large canvas painting or a series of paintings?




This customer decided that a series of smaller paintings were the perfect addition to the public areas of his Guesthouse.  This idea can be applied for over-sofa paintings or for any long wall space such as a corridor which does not have a great height.


3. How to choose the correct size wall art for your room

Once you have decided on the theme or color of the paintings you need you can then decide on the size of your oil reproductions.  Deciding on scale can be really tough to imagine and we recommend this very easy method:

All you need to do is cut some old newspaper or butcher paper to the size you think will work and then place it on the wall where your painting will hang.   Small pieces of general purpose masking tape secured at each corner will allow you to stand back to decide whether you can go larger or smaller or you got it right first time!

Take your time – the introduction of art into a room is as every bit as important as any piece of furniture.

Be bold and don’t be afraid.

Other tools for selecting the right size painting can be found at hayneedle.com:

4. Don’t hang your paintings too high!

Where you place your painting on the wall is key.

Hanging paintings too high on the wall is a common mistake.  Your art is there to be enjoyed and viewing at standing eye level will allow for maximum pleasure.   Museums all over the world ensure that paintings are placed at eye level height giving visitors the very best possible viewing experience.

Home styling guru Martha Stewart gives her opinion on this topic:

5. Don’t be afraid to love the art you like

You may not know much about art but don’t let that hold you back.  Find paintings which speak to you and they will give you endless years pleasure.

You don’t have to be a wealthy collector or art connoisseur to choose great paintings to decorate your home.   Introducing art into your home is an opportunity to express a unique style and individuality.  In a room without a main architectural focal point, a bold oil painting fills the void, drawing the eye and giving color to even the most uninteresting space.