1955 Bernard Buffet Portrait

Value (2012) | $25,000 Retail
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GUEST:
I was at the Spokane Valley Goodwill and I found it, basically. I like it, so I bought it.

APPRAISER:
And how much did you pay for it?

GUEST:
$15, or thereabouts.

APPRAISER:
And what did you like about it?

GUEST:
The eyes. It's kind of scary, but it draws you to it.

APPRAISER:
And what do you know about the artist?

GUEST:
I know it's Bernard Buffet, and there's a lot of fakes out there, I guess, of this artist. So... (laughs)

APPRAISER:
Bernard Buffet is a French artist. He was born in Paris in 1928. He studied art for a few years, but then tended to work independently. And by age 18, he was exhibiting his first painting. It was a self-portrait. And after that he had an exhibition every year.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And in 1948, a contemporary of his named Bernard Lorjou started a group of artists called the Anti-Abstract Art Group. It was organized in order to defend figurative painting against the popularity of abstract art. So Buffet became associated with that. In 1955, which is the year that your picture was painted, he won a very prestigious award and was named one of the ten best artists in France. And this prize helped him to become very well-known and quite wealthy. He was very popular, very commercially successful, but in the '60s, his reputation declined a bit in France. Supposedly, Picasso was jealous of his success.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And sort of started a campaign to discredit him a bit. They didn't want him to be considered a fine artist. But I think his reputation is definitely coming back because they're creating a museum for him in Southern France. Now, he has a very unique style of painting, where he uses these very severe, linear outlines in his work. He's known for doing portraits, landscapes, still lifes, a variety of subject matter. His portraits tend to have kind of a severe look. Sometimes they look almost emaciated. They can be a little scary looking or intense. Not necessarily what you would consider pretty.

GUEST:
I love it. (laughs)

APPRAISER:
But it does have its own appeal, and certainly he's always had his support in the art market. Now, have you ever had this appraised?

GUEST:
Yes, several different appraisals, ranging from $6,000 to up to $20,000. Some say it's good, others say there's so many fakes, it could be fake.

APPRAISER:
Well, he was a very prolific artist. He painted over 8,000 paintings and did a lot of prints. I think it's authentic, but if you were to sell this in a major auction house or retail gallery, you would need to have the papers that would authenticate it from a recognized authority who's in Paris. If this were in a retail gallery, they might ask as much as $25,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
So not bad for a $15 investment.

GUEST:
(laughing) Yeah, excellent.

APPRAISER:
Wonderful.

GUEST:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Nan Chisholm Fine Art, Ltd.
New York, NY
Appraised value (2012)
$25,000 Retail
Event
Seattle, WA (August 18, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Portrait

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