de Rothschild family Sells Two Rembrandts

The NY Times is reporting on the sale of two Rembrandt portraits sold to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam by members of the de Rothschild family. The two paintings were sold to the Rijksmuseum last year for almost $180 million. The reason was for estate planning purposes and to cover taxes in shifting assets to the next generation.

The NY Times reports
AMSTERDAM — Before roughly 26,000 visitors were admitted into the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam this past weekend to view two Rembrandt portraits heralded as new national treasures, their former owner, Éric de Rothschild, had a moment alone with his two old friends, the newlyweds Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit.

“I was delighted to see them again,” said Mr. de Rothschild, a French businessman who, until March, had the portraits in his Paris home, one on each side of his bed. “At home, they were part of the environment, and they rarely showed all their importance. They were now all of a sudden more official. At home, they were very much at ease. Now, they were dressed up more in their evening clothes. They were on their best behavior.”

Until now, Mr. de Rothschild has never spoken publicly about the sale of the paintings last year to the Rijksmuseum and the Louvre for 160 million euros, or almost $180 million at current exchange rates, in an unusual joint purchase that was arranged between the Dutch and French governments.

Mr. de Rothschild said in an interview last week in Amsterdam that the impetus to sell had come from his brother, Robert de Rothschild, who wanted to settle a tax bill incurred from passing assets to his son.

“I didn’t want to separate the pictures or to sell either one,” Éric de Rothschild said. “For art historical reasons, they were a pair, and they should remain a pair. Therefore, I accepted to sell mine with his.”

The brothers inherited the Rembrandts from their father, Alain de Rothschild, when he died in 1982, though the works have been in the family since 1878. “We don’t have any other Rembrandts,” he said.

“Grandpa had a few, but we only had two,” he said, referring to himself and Robert.

Each son was allowed to choose a portrait.

“I had the lady because I preferred her,” Mr. de Rothschild said. “When you look at them both, you have the impression that Rembrandt was more interested in her, and painted her closer to her character. Hers is a more psychological portrait. The painting of the man and his costume is magnificent, and so is the sheen of the material in which her dress was made. But the face of the woman was more — you had the impression that Rembrandt had given her more psychological thought.”

When he obtained an export permit from the Ministry of Culture in March 2015 to try to sell the works abroad, Mr. de Rothschild was criticized by the art news media in France for wanting to take the works out of the country. He said that when he put them on the market through the auction house Christie’s in London, the Rijksmuseum reacted immediately. He said he was pleased that, in the end, the paintings will be shared between two of the world’s greatest art museums.

“They came back to their country of origin, and they were also able to stay in the country which their owners had always lived,” he said, referring to the Netherlands and France. “So it was, to a certain extent, a rather ideal situation.”

The portraits will be on view at the Rijksmuseum until Oct. 2.

In addition to pieces Mr. de Rothschild inherited, he has bought for his personal collection many works of Pop Art, English School paintings and old masters over the years. “I’ve bought everything, nearly, except Impressionists,” he said. “I never found them very exciting.”
Source: The NY Times 

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