Despite the best efforts of gallerist Larry Salander (now under indictment for fraud) to remedy what he saw as the dramatic undervaluing of his beloved Old Masters, prices in that market “have not risen appreciably, and in some areas not at all, over the last twenty years,” says dealer Richard Feigen. “We may have seen a bursting of the bubble in the contemporary market; we have not even seen an inflation of the bubble in the Old Masters.” That’s not to say Old Masters are cheap, but some things—like Tiepolo and Delacroix drawings, priced between $50,000 and $100,000—may be undervalued.
It’s a similar story with the Impressionism-modern market. Jon Bourassa, an adviser with Citigroup’s Art Advisory Service (yes, Citigroup still has an art-advisory service), cites the work of Alfred Sisley as an example of an opportunity for smart investment. The lesser-known Impressionist’s prices have fallen more than others, but when the market recovers, he should “ride the coattails” of his more illustrious colleagues. On May 5, Sotheby’s offers Sisley’s Moret-sur-Loing, which last hit the auction block in 2005 at Christie’s in Paris, where it sold for $1,789,607. Sotheby’s estimate on the painting now: $1 million to $1.5 million.