July 4 - A six foot painting by the English Romantic painter has fetched in £22.4 million for a Spanish aristocrat, who claims she's having liquidity problems. Joanne Nicholson reports.
It fetched an eye watering 22.4 million pounds at auction - that's a record for one of Constable's paintings. He finished 'The Lock' in 1824. It was at the height of the career of the English Romantic painter (SOUNDBITE) (English) JUSSI PYLKKANEN, PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF CHRISTIE'S EUROPE, SAYING: "This Constable was one of his greatest masterpieces, it's been in private hands for over two hundred years and here it is coming to auction in London and making a record price." But it's the story behind those private hands which is making the headlines Baroness "Tita" Thyssen Bornemisza - a former Miss Spain and widow of a Swiss billionaire - sold the painting because she was running short of cash in her debt crisis-hit country - despite reportedly owning four homes across Spain and employing 80 household staff. "I have no liquidity." she recently told a Spanish newspaper. "Keeping the collection here is costly to me, and I get nothing in return" That didn't go down well with her step daughter or Norman Rosenthal, a trustee of the Madrid museum where the painting used to hang. He has resigned his post saying the sale "represents a moral shame on the part of all those concerned, most especially on the part of Tita." The new owner isn't known but this Constable sold for double the old master's previous record of 10.8 million pounds. On the same night - dubbed Old Master's evening - at Christie's auction house, 54 other works were sold. They fetched in a total of 85 million pounds Joanne Nicholson, Reuters