Shrewd Art Buyer Calls First Dibs on Marini Sculpture –

marino marini Shrewd Art Buyer Calls First Dibs on Marini Sculpture   artmarketblog.comOne of the most important aspects of successful art investment is knowing what is happening in the cultural sphere.  It is the cultural sphere that will, at the end of the day, dictate the desirability and rarity of a work of art in the long term, and thus dictate the long term value placed on a work of art.  Prices can change rapidly and severely due to market trends and buying behaviours, but the cultural and art historical value assigned to a work of art is something that is far more stable and justifiable because it is not based on short term trends or fads that are usually completely unjustifiable.

While looking through the Sotheby’s London February 8 Impressionist and Modern Art Evening sale catalogue I noticed that the Marino Marini sculpture titled L’Idea Del Cavaliere is being sold having already received an irrevocable bid.  For those of you who don’t know what an irrevocable bid is, Sotheby’s website describes it as:

“Lots with this symbol “symb IrrevocableBids Shrewd Art Buyer Calls First Dibs on Marini Sculpture” indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, they will be required to pay the full Buyer’s Premium and will not be otherwise compensated. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. (Effective for sales commencing October 20, 2008)”

To place an irrevocable bid on a work of art is a big commitment that usually indicates that the buyer who placed the irrevocable bid knows something that other buyers perhaps are not privy to. By placing an irrevocable bid the bidder is essentially announcing that they are very serious about purchasing the work  – an act that is supposed to act as a deterrent to other buyers who were thinking of bidding on the work as well.  An irrevocable bid is essentially a way of calling first dibs on a work of art and intimidating other potential buyers.

So what makes this Marini sculpture so special?  Yes, it is considered one of his best works. Yes, it is a monumental work. But is this enough to justify placing an irrevocable bid? Probably not.  But there is more to this story than the single sculpture being sold by Sotheby’s.  You see, there has been quite a bit of action in the cultural sphere with regards to the work of Marino Marini. For starters, the Estorick Collection London is currently showing an exhibition titled “From Morandi to Guttso: Masterpieces from the Alberto Della Ragione Collection which, as the title suggests, includes works by Morandi – albeit paintings as opposed to sculptures.  Most importantly, however, is the announcement made by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia on the 2nd of February that a Marini sculpture of a horse and rider, of similar size and appearance to the one being sold by Sotheby’s, has been donated to the gallery by Melbourne philanthropist Loti Smorgon. The reason this is so important is that this donation means that there yet another Marini sculpture has been removed from the market making the remaining horse and rider sculptures even more rare and desirable. Having only been produced in such small editions (L’Idea Del Cavaliere was only an edition of four) makes the removal of even one horse and rider series sculpture from the market a major event. Now does the irrevocable bid seem more justifiable?

As you can see, it pays to keep an eye on the cultural sphere as the actions of galleries and museums can have a major effect on the desirability, rarity and value of a work of art. Whoever placed the irrevicable bid on the Marini sculpture is an extremely shrewd collector or investor who knows what he/she is doing. What makes the irrevocable bid even more sweet for the bidder is the fact that they receive financial compensation if they are not the successful bidder. So, the bidder will either get the work for the price that they paid knowing that the work will likely be worth more than they paid for it in the near future, or will be compensated if someone else decides that they too realise how valuable the sculpture is and are willing to pay even more.


LOT 20
1901 – 1980
inscribed MM, numbered 3/3 and stamped with the foundry mark Fonderia d’Arte De Andreis, Milano
bronze, painted by the artist
height: 220cm.
86 5/8 in.
Executed in 1955 and cast in bronze in an edition of 4. This work was also carved in wood in 1956.
ESTIMATE 3,700,000 – 4,500,000 GBP

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

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  • Randy C. Brown

    This type of bid is a win-win situation for both the bidder and the seller. It must have taken quite a bit of research to have know the piece was worth what was being bid. I does indeed pay to stay on top of art events. Well done!

  • Kat | Post Card Design Sample

    Yes it is a successful art investment to look at the cultural sphere to see the value of art made but for most artists I think, they work on their masterpieces out of inspiration or for a purpose. An artwork for example, it’s a form of one’s expression that could be valued depending on how the audience perceive it. But Most of artists’ work I’ve seen are priceless!

  • Canvas Art Lover

    Wow. I love your website. The information you put together is fun and easy to read. I will check back in a week or so to read more of your stuff. Great job and happy I found you.

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