In England a pair of artwork by Titian were acquired for 100 million of English pounds, a third of its real market value, by a public subscription to which a multitude of citizens and private institutions participated.
It happened again in 2014, for a self-portrait by Van Dyck painted on 1640.
It was put on sale by Sotheby’s in 2009 and purchased for a huge sum of money by an American collector. It has to be told that Van Dyck painted numerous self-portraits during his life.
The government though, on recommendation of the National Portrait Gallery, decided that the work of the great painter was an inalienable heritage of the English cultural patrimony and temporarily prohibited its exportation in order to enable a subject from the United Kingdom to purchase it. The real problem was that the government itself did not have the money necessary for the acquisition. A voluntary subscription started and it brought around 10.000 citizens, corporations, foundations and English institutions to raise the amount of money needed to enable the National Portrait Gallery to buy the painting, also by virtue of the cooperation both of the seller and, for the sponsoring of the subscription, of the British Royal family.
Previously, in the second half of the Seventeenth century, the Cardinal Mazarin, Prime Minister of France under the King Louis XIII and the King Louis XIV, one of the most refined collectors and art connoisseurs of XVII century in Europe, was obsessed about finding Van Dyck’s paintings, which he acquired for colossal sums of money. Titian was considered as one of the most known and celebrated chiefs of art schools ever. Van Dyck conversely died when he was young and only a few months after the death of his Teacher Rubens, and for this reason he has always been regarded only as his eternal, marvellous pupil.
But if it was the truth, why has he been so loved, appreciated and has had the highest quotations since the times of Cardinal Mazarin up to our epoch?
Regarding quotations, even during the economic crisis, art has always been representing one of the safest and most prestigious safe haven assets.
The quotation and the effective sale of modern and contemporary art and also of the artworks of XVI and XVII centuries have reached impressive numbers. It is enough to think to the 300 millions paid in 2015 for "Nafea Faa Ipoipo"(When will you marry me?) painted in 1892 by Gauguin, or to the 250 millions of the picture “Card Players” by Paul Cezanne.
Concerning the art of 1500 and 1600 the “Portrait of Jan Six” by Rembrandt, 1654, has been valued by one of the biggest American art dealers, Otto Nauman, at more than 150 millions of euro, while "The Madonna With the Family of Mayor Meyer (The Darmstadt Madonna)", realized between 1525 and 1528, by Hans Holbein the Younger has been sold for 70 millions dollars in 2011, and, according to Bloomberg on the 14th of July of the same year, it could have been sold for more than one millions if Germany had not prohibited the expatriation of this artwork.
But If Van Dyck’s quotations are in line with the prices of the international market, or even below of their potentialities, even if I believe that the rarest and most “secret” artwork has not been exposed on the market yet, what is the true mystery of Van Dyck?