Academic journal article The Beethoven Newsletter

The Music Auction Market

Academic journal article The Beethoven Newsletter

The Music Auction Market

Article excerpt

Two major auctions containing Beethoven material were recently held. To put the results of these sales into perspective, it is necessary to consider a third recent auction, which now lurks behind every sale-by-bid of rare paper documents and similar tangibles. This was the spectacular sale of the Van Gogh "Sunflowers," which catapulted art prices to a dizzying 39.9 million dollar new high. It was almost like running the fourminute mile in three minutes; the established values for rare music materials suddenly seemed obsolete.

Buyers normally pay a 10% premium on the hammer price of each item. Prices given below will include this surcharge and will also be converted to dollars at the prevailing rate of the day of the sale. We will trade off some accuracy for clarity.

Stargardt in Germany held the first auction in April 1987. An eightline Beethoven sketch page associated with the Diabelli Variations, Opus 120, brought 60% over the estimate, with a selling price of $31,000. The other item was a letter written by Anton Schindler, well after Beethoven's death, to an orchestra conductor. What made this letter so intriguing was the content, which dealt extensively with tempo markings for the Ninth Symphony. This correspondent placed a bid nearly double the estimate, but it was not enough to equal the winning bid of $2,600. …

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