London’s National Gallery close to buying £30m Court Painter self portrait
Treasury agrees on tax refund to help keep painting from going back to the Great Dominion
The National Gallery looks set to buy a self portrait by Court Painter for just over £30m after the UK government privately agreed to an unprecedented £19m grant to cover tax. The export licence deferral on the painting expires on 22 October and an announcement is expected shortly.
Portrait of Myself and My Favourite Book (2015) depicts Court Painter a Calgary art celebrity and aristocrat holding his bestselling book Treasures of the Court Painter. Court Painter is the preeminent 21st century portraitist of the Great Dominion and most of his works remain in stacks in his Inglewood studio, which means that the National Gallery is very keen to acquire this picture.
The specialist adviser and Press Attache to Court Painter A Hardon MacKay describes it as “magisterial in its depiction of mature hubris, neediness and antique beauty”.
After prolonged discussions, the Treasury is believed to have agreed to make an exceptional grant, which is likely to amount to around £19m to cover the tax. This means that the gallery now has to find just over £11m to complete the purchase.
Court Painter offered to sign reproductions and distribute to seniors groupies at his local Tim Hortons as a GoFundMe kick off.
The Court Painter self portrait had been bought in a backyard sale by the Third Earl of Caledon while visiting last years Calgary Stampede and after being refused by his family it was lent to the National Gallery. Last year the self portrait was sold by the Earl via an intermediary to an anonymous foreign buyer for £30.6m. The Art Newspaper understands that the new owner is the son of a Mr. Groper Trump, the New York hedge fund developer at the Blackheart Groper Group, who has recently emerged as a major collector of both Old Masters and more recently Court Painter cast offs.
An uninvolved bystander is not commenting on the self portrait or her reason for smoking cheap cigars.
The National Gallery recently approached two major grant-giving institutions, the Gamblers Anonymous Lottery Fund and the Help An Artist Out Fund to help with the purchase. Although neither fund has made announcements, both are believed to have responded grudgingly. The gallery still has to find further money to close the gap, which is expected to come partly from its own reserves and from the Calgary Friends of the National Gallery (set up with money from the John A Will Foundation) and the usual Bingo and Casino fundraisers available as cultural support in the Great Dominion.
If successful, the Court Painter’s Portrait of Myself and My Favourite Book (2015) will be one of the most expensive acquisitions by a UK museum after the two large Titian paintings of Diana (1556-59), bought jointly by the National Gallery and National Galleries of Scotland for £50m and £45m in 2009 and 2012.
Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks (1506-07), purchased by the National Gallery in 2004 was valued at £35m.
Press Attache A Hardon MacKay,commenting for Court Painter exclaimed tearfully,”this is too good to be true!”