Skip To Content



Your privacy is important. Our Cookies Statement explains how we use cookies on this site. You can change their use at any time. You accept them by continuing to use this site. Our Privacy Statement explains how we use and protect your data.

Lenkiewicz Revisited

Daniel Goddard, Head of the Pictures Department, reviews how the market for paintings by the late Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) has fared since the last Lenkiewicz Studio Sale six years ago, as the prospect of auctioning more than a dozen pictures by the artist in the Spring Fine Sale in April 2014 looms.

A self-portrait by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002), which is being offered in our
        Exeter salerooms in April 2014 as one of more than a dozen pictures by the artist.

A self-portrait by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002), which is being offered in our Exeter salerooms in April 2014 as one of more than a dozen pictures by the artist.

In April 2008, in the week after the third and final Lenkiewicz Studio Sale, I had a number of conversations with collectors, picture buyers and reporters who all wanted to talk about the frenzy of buying, the thousands of people who had attended the sale and the impressive prices that were achieved.

One particular picture buyer, who had been in the trade for over 40 years, said that these sorts of sales did not happen any more. 'Back in the day' there were fantastic house sales or artists' studio sales, but not now, this was the sort of sale that doesn't happen any more. But it did happen, and during the course of the Lenkiewicz Studio Sales over three million pounds was spent on Lenkiewicz pictures.

Thousands of people from across the south west, from London, Birmingham and up and down the country, from Europe and overseas, had come to the huge exhibition centre at Westpoint and between them they had devoured the last 500 lot tranche of paintings, watercolours, drawings and artefacts from the Lenkiewicz Studios in Plymouth.

The Bishop Startled (SF15/155) painted by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) was one of over 500
        lots sold by the pre-merger Bearnes in April 2008 as part of the last
        Lenkiewicz Studio Sale. The painting sold for £100,000.

The Bishop Startled (SF15/155) painted by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) was one of over 500 lots sold by the pre-merger Bearnes in April 2008 as part of the last Lenkiewicz Studio Sale. The painting sold for £100,000.

The result was that the conditions of the market on the day of the final sale were driven by a mass of devoted fans of Robert Lenkiewicz and their appetite to buy drove prices up.

Many of the assembled crowd believed they had a personal relationship with Lenkiewicz and they saw this as their last opportunity to acquire a keepsake. There was a frenzy of buying with every lot sold.

The Death Bed (SF15/437) by the late Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz fetched £85,000
        at auction in April 2008. Lenkiewicz's outstanding works have maintained their value
        over the last six years since that sale, but Daniel Goddard believes
        the value of his lesser works have probably fallen since that sale.

The Death Bed (SF15/437) by the late Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz fetched £85,000 at auction in April 2008. Lenkiewicz's outstanding works have maintained their value over the last six years since that sale, but Daniel Goddard believes the value of his lesser works has probably fallen since that sale.

Pre-sale estimates, which in hindsight still look realistic and sensible, were blown away and irrelevant. Hundreds of people left with their own piece of Lenkiewicz, some in terms of a memento, others as a treasured artwork, some inclined towards investment.

Important Lenkiewicz works, such as Man Presenting His Entrails (SF15/377) that
        sold for £65,000 in April 2008, still command high prices.

Important Lenkiewicz works, such as Man Presenting His Entrails (SF15/377) that sold for £65,000 in April 2008, still command high prices.

For many, this was their first experience of a live auction and their first opportunity to buy a work by Lenkiewicz. The energy and excitement of these new buyers created A perfect storm resulting in exceptional prices with highlights like the £100,000 paid for the portrait of Albert Fisher called The Bishop Startled (SF15/155), £85,000 for the masterwork called The Death Bed (SF15/437) and £65,000 for Man Presenting His Entrails (SF15/377).

While these outstanding major works and their hammer prices bear scrutiny today, the perfect storm drove-up the prices for the less important paintings too. Some of these minor works were quickly painted by Lenkiewicz to settle a debt, buy a book or to please an admirer; and there is little doubt that some are 'average' at best. These lesser paintings include what the artist called 'first statements' which are the loose lines and shapes of colour made at a first sitting.

Daniel Goddard believes Lenkiewicz's outline drawings or what the artist called 'first statements', such
        as this canvas of a family group (SF15/518) that sold for £3,200 in 2008, are unlikely to command similar prices in today's market.

Daniel Goddard believes Lenkiewicz's outline drawings or what the artist called 'first statements', such as this canvas of a family group (SF15/518) that sold for £3,200 in 2008, are unlikely to command similar prices in today's market.

The prices achieved for Lenkiewicz's lesser works such as Greenie (SF15/425), which realised £15,000 back in April 2008,
        do now seem exceptional and would probably have difficulty achieving a similar figure in today's market.

The prices achieved for Lenkiewicz's lesser works such as Greenie (SF15/425), which realised £15,000 back in April 2008, do now seem exceptional and would probably have difficulty achieving a similar figure in today's market.

The £3,200 paid for the outline drawing on canvas of a family group (SF15/517) and £15,000 for the loose painting of Greenie (SF15/425) do seem high now and I think would be very difficult to repeat six years on and, in the cold light of day, while the market is not frenzied and energised.

The Last Supper (SF16/53) painted by the Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz that sold for £80,000 in March 2010.

The Last Supper (SF16/53) painted by the Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz that sold for £80,000 in March 2010.

Since 2008, we have regularly sold Lenkiewicz with continued success for the major works. In 2010, we sold The Last Supper for £80,000 and in the same sale a portrait of Lisa Stokes Holding a Mirror for £40,000; and in April of this year there is another opportunity to test the Lenkiewicz market.

The upcoming Spring 2014 Fine Sale has more than a dozen Lenkiewicz pictures, including this portrait of Lisa Stokes with the Plymouth artist (estimate £20,000-£30,000) that
        stands alongside his best paintings of women, such as 'Lisa Holding a Mirror' (SF16/9) that sold for £40,000 in 2010.

The upcoming Spring 2014 Fine Sale has more than a dozen Lenkiewicz pictures, including this portrait of Lisa Stokes with the Plymouth artist (estimate £20,000-£30,000) that stands alongside his best paintings of women, such as 'Lisa Holding a Mirror' (SF16/9) that sold for £40,000 in 2010.

The group of over a dozen paintings for sale in the Spring 2014 Fine Art Sale on 29th April 2014 contains excellent examples including a large portrait of Lisa Stokes with the Painter that compares well with his best paintings of women like Lisa Stokes Holding a Mirror mentioned above. This painting is estimated at £20,000-£30,000 which is realistic and reflects the change in the market over the period from the frenzied studio sale to a more level playing field where thre are fewer active collectors under less pressure not to miss an opportunity.

In the same sale, there is a rare landscape (estimated at £6,000-£8,000), which is similar to the iconic Silver Lake (SF15/440) that was withdrawn form the 2008 sale but which I understand would have sold well into five figures. There is also an iconic self-portrait similar to a number we have sold over the last 10 years for prices between £4,000 and £10,000. This one is estimated at £5,000-£7,000.

Printed catalogues for the April 2014 Fine Art Sale, which includes a Lenkiewicz Collection, will be available from 11th April 2014. To order one, please contact Dan Goddard on dgoddard@bhandl.co.uk.

Tags

  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Robert Lenkiewicz

Social Bookmarks

Please click the following links to flag this article to other people on the Internet.