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Soutine painting formerly in Hammer Museum is sold at auction

June 30, 2010 |  5:53 pm

Soutine 'Le Valet De Chambre' AFP Getty Images 2 In 2007, the UCLA Hammer Museum struck a deal with the Armand Hammer Foundation to split the collection that the late oilman had deposited in the Westwood cultural center that bears his name. Of 195 works, 103  would remain with the museum, including most of the choicest objects, while the other 92 were turned over to the foundation.

To conclude the deal, the museum and the foundation severed their relationship.

I noted at the time:

In total, the giveback [to the foundation] is appraised at $55 million. It includes pleasant, minor works by Camille Corot, James Ensor, George Inness and Gilbert Stuart. Inexplicably, it also includes a terrific, fretful Chaim Soutine portrait, "The Valet," worth plenty. The foundation's motivation for wanting the split remains unknown; since its net worth has dropped sharply since 2001, however, a desire for a big bump in assets may be one explanation. Don't be surprised if ... works are sold, including the marvelous Soutine."

Last week at Sotheby's auction house in London, the hammer fell on the former Hammer Soutine. In a sale topped by the Edouard Manet "Self-portrait" once owned by Las Vegas casino and resort mogul Stephen A. Wynn and now being sold by Connecticut hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, the Soutine fetched $11.8-million.

The buyer of the picture was not disclosed.

-- Christopher Knight

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Photo: Chaim Soutine's 1929 "Le Valet de Chambre" at Sotheby's June 22 Impressionist and Modern art sale in London. Credit: AFP/Getty Images