This page takes a look at the prices for which the four forged artists were sold before 1990, to get an overview of the market from before the forgeries came to light. These developments will be shown by using the sales information from Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the period 1975-1990.
The number of sales of works by Jan Altink is relatively low compared to the other three artists. Most of the works sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s were drawings and smaller works in general. However, this significantly changes towards the end of the 1980s. As will also be seen with the other artists, the interest in The Plough works significantly peaks in 1988 and 1989. This resulted in artworks by Altink being sold for ƒ 5.000 or more, with most notably a painting being sold for ƒ 12.075, and one work – although not actually sold – being estimated to be worth between ƒ 12.000 and ƒ 16.000. Both these auctions were held on the 10th of April 1989 at Sotheby’s.
Dijkstra’s work was sold regularly during this period. Many paintings were sold for amounts between ƒ 2.500 and ƒ 5.000, with the total number of artworks sold adding up to about a 100 works. As with Altink, the prices for Dijkstra’s work significantly increased towards the end of the 1980’s. Noteworthy is that the same auction that sold Altink’s work for peak value, sold two of Dijkstra’s works for ƒ 36.800 and ƒ 46.000, respectively. Another work was estimated to be worth between ƒ 50.000 and ƒ 70.000 but wasn’t actually sold.
Hendrik Werkman’s works differ a lot in prices from the other three artists, especially when looking at how the prices developed. Werkman’s work did not enjoy the same price spike as the other three artists did at the end of the 1980s. However, his work sold regularly for an estimated average price of over ƒ5.000, which is especially impressive seeing as a lot of it is print work, of which multiple copies were made. The most probable explanation for this is linked to Werkman’s untimely death during the Second World War. The price of his work had already settled before the period of 1975-1990, and thus we don’t see the same developments as with the other artists.
Besides the fact that the sheer number of works sold far exceeds any of the other three artists, Wiegers was the first artist whose works would enjoy a price spike in the 1980s. Already in 1984 one of his works was worth an estimated ƒ 10.000. A year later, on the 19th of November, one of his works sold for ƒ 16.240 at an auction hosted by Christie’s. From that period onward, his paintings keep fetching prices between ƒ 3.000 and ƒ 5.000. During the price spike of 1989, also Wiegers’ work positively benefits from this increased interest in The Plough artists. At the aforementioned auction, numerous of his works are auctioned for between ƒ 10.000 and ƒ 30.000. Six months later one of his works was sold for ƒ 10.500, followed by another work being sold for ƒ20.700 in December.
Although prices for works by The Plough were in the lower spectrum during 1975-1990, there was a great boost of interest at the end of the 1980’s. Prices of works by Altink, Dijkstra, and Wiegers increased significantly. Multiple records were set by the different artists’ works. It can, therefore, be said that, just before the forgery suspicions arose, the market for The Plough artworks was booming and on a significant rise.
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