Giacometti drawings discovered in London antiques shop

11th August 2017

A number of drawings found among dusty paintings and papers have been discovered in an antiques shop in Kensington. It has been confirmed that these presumed lost drawings are products of the famous Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. 

The works of the great 20th century artist were in the antiques shop of the late dealer Eila Grahame, who was renowned for not selling her items to customers if she took against them. 

She passed away in 2010 and it wasn’t until 2016 that the Cambridge auction house Cheffins was asked to clear and sell the antiques from her shop on Kensington Church Street. 

As Cheffins sorted through the antiques, it came across a number of pencil sketches on paper with drawings of heads and nude women standing up. While the images looked similar to that of Giacometti and were signed and dated in 1947, the auction house was at first unsure if they were authentic. 

In order to reveal whether or not the drawings were genuine, they had to be sent to Paris where a committee of the Giacometti Foundation analysed and authenticated them, then added them to the artist’s catalogue raisonné.

Martin Millard, a director at Cheffins, explained that a mention of two possible Giacometti head portraits had been made in a previous valuation of Ms Grahame’s antiques but they were presumed lost or sold because “they were not immediately evident as we were going round the property”.

He said: “At the time we didn’t know if it was two pieces of paper, two large sketches, whether they were done on the back of a cigarette packet or whether they were done on large canvases. We didn’t know what we were looking for.

“We eventually found them buried under piles of dust-covered antiques, paintings and drawings.You live for these moments when you do find little gems hidden away.”

The discovered drawings have never been seen before by the public but it is likely that they will soon be exhibited around the world in various museums and galleries. 

Other antiques and collectables found in the Kensington shop include a 18th century cork model of the Temple of Sibilla in Tivoli that sold last year for £53,000 despite having a guide price of only £3,000. Other sales have been made from the antique shop, generating roughly £600,000 for charity - testament to Ms Grahame’s talent for spotting quality items, claims Cheffins. 

According to the Guardian, the drawings have an estimated value of £40,000-£60,000 and will be sold at auction in the Cambridge auction house on October 12th. The proceeds will go to the Art Fund. 

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