Paris dealer Charles Bailly recorded another hit, this time with a painting by French master Nicolas Poussin, which he sold for 38 million francs (US $ 6,666 million) at Sotheby's New York on January 28th 1999.
Poussin: The Agony in the Garden, oil on copper, 60.3 x 47 cm.
One of the latest great discoveries made by Charles Bailly.
Charles Bailly has been one of the major discoverers of lost old master paintings during the past 15 years. Thanks to his sharp eye, he found in an auction sale in Nancy, Eastern France, a Frans Post Brazilian view of 1638, which once belonged to king Louis 14th, that he sold back through Sotheby's in New York for an impressive sum of US $ 4,512,500 on January 30th 1997. Bailly had bought this long lost painting for a mere US $ 10,000 in an ordinary auction sale in Nancy, Eastern France. A bingo day for the dealer who had detected the royal inventory number at the back of the canvas.
The Poussin painting sold by Sotheby's had been detected by Bailly some 10 years ago in a small auction sale in Drouot. The auctioneer who had been checking off a succession had found it at the last minute in a wardrobe. This time, Bailly fought a hard battle with other dealers to snatch that painting for 2 million francs (US $ 350,800).
Last year, the famous Paris-dealer sold a Rubens painting showing the head of John the Baptist presented to Salome for 27 million francs
(US $ 4,736, 000). He had bought this painting in an auction sale outside Paris for 2 millions francs around 1987.
Bailly has an incredible flair when it comes to discover lost works. However, his usual methods are rather simple and there is no secret to his successes.
1) He has plenty of money at his disposal to acquire what he has detected.
2) He takes enormous risks in buying works which remain to be authenticated. His most daring operation was the purchase of a work, The Immaculate Conception, which he firmly believed to be by Velazquez taking the risk of paying over 20 million francs (US $ 3,500,000) at Drouot on June 22nd 1990. He then offered it for saleat a reserve price of US $ 10 million with Sotheby's on July 6th 1994 but the painting was unsold following a controversial campaign by some experts who claimed that this painting was in fact by another Spanish painter, probably Alonso Cano. Today, Charles Bailly is still determined to prove he was right and has told Artcult he would meet success in a very near future.
The Immaculate Conception, 142 x 98.2 cm, a work bought at Drouot by Bailly who firmly believed that it was a early painting by Velazquez. Some well known experts challenged his opinion and the oil on canvas found no buyer at Sotheby's four years later
3) He has a library of about 20,000 art books and at least half a dozen researchers working for him. This means that knowledge combined with an intelligent method of sifting through loads of documents can lead to success.
4) He roams all auction sales and fairs like a madman. Bailly is so much obsessed trying to find new treasures that he can work 24 hours non-stop. Every Friday morning he is scouring the Paris flea market in search of new masterpieces.