"The first of five world auction records was set with a marine by Willem van de Velde the Younger. “Dutch Men-o’ War and Other Shipping in a Calm” was last seen at auction at Phillips London, on June 1, 1822, when it was bought by Abraham Wildey Robarts. ........... Like virtually all his paintings, the Van de Velde Jr. is in mint condition, with its glazes intact. This is a major consideration in the making of a price, particularly in the case of the Dutch artist’s marines. His mastery in rendering luminous skies and their reflections in the sea is only revealed in its full glory when all the nuances are spared the alteration of pigments. The Van de Velde sold for £5.91 million, double its high estimate."
"A world auction record also was set for Jan Steen when an interior scene featuring card players in frivolous company brought £4.86 million — the price did not even match the low estimate. Such blatant overestimation was not due to some inexplicable hubris on the experts’ part........... It is a dangerous game at which Christie’s and Sotheby’s take turns. If the drying up of supplies continues, auction houses will anyway have to hold only one major sale a year, not two. And that might altogether signal the end of the auction market in this field, because for auctions to attract bidders, a certain pace is indispensable. Otherwise, interest just withers away." Read more.