Two paintings by Canaletto from the corporate art collection of HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) sold at an auction last night in London for 9.6 million pounds ($15.7 million), including fees.
The identically sized views of the St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge in Venice, dating from 1738 to 1742, were entered as a single lot in Sotheby’s sale of Old Masters paintings, estimated at 8 million pounds to 12 million pounds, based on hammer prices. They were bought by an unidentified collector, according to the company.
Canaletto (1697-1768), or Giovanni Antonio Canal, is the best-known view painter from 18th-century Venice and has long been prized by wealthy collectors. His paintings have risen in price in recent years as new international buyers focus on the most prominent Old Masters, leaving works by lesser historical names struggling to maintain their value as investments.
“These Canalettos were trophy paintings that were instantly recognizable,” said Philip Hoffman, chief executive officer of the London-based Fine Art Fund Group. “They were right up the street of the Russians and other emerging markets. The new money is concentrated on the big Old Master names.”