The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles won J.M.W. Turner's ethereal final painting of Rome, “Modern Rome — Campo Vaccino” (1839) for $44.9 million (with fees) at a Sotheby's sale in London on Wednesday.
In pristine condition, the work reached an auction record for the British master, soundly surpassing the $35.9 million paid in 2006 for his Venetian scene "Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio." The pre-sale estimate was £12-18 million.
Adding to the allure was the 1839 painting's impeccable provenance. The 5th Earl of Rosebery and his wife Hannah Rothschild purchased the work in 1878, while on honeymoon, and it had remained in their family collection ever since.
Also this week, an Asian private buyer picked up perhaps the most important piece of English silver to come to the market in 50 years. The enormous, 168-pound silver wine cooler, part of Sotheby's "Aristocratic Heirlooms" sale, a 21-lot auction which totalled £13,951,250 ($21,177,998), was made by Phillip Rollos for Thomas Wentworth, 3rd Baron Raby. The piece, embellished with the royal arms of Queen Anne, sold for £2,505,250, just above its pre-sale high estimate of £2.5 million, setting a new record price for English silver at auction.