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18th-century Scottish masterpiece acquired for $6 is now selling for a whooping $3 million

Scottish Council teaches a lesson on art investment by aiming for massive returns on an 18th-century bust they bought for $6.

18th-century Scottish masterpiece acquired for $6 is now selling for a whooping $3 million
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | judit agusti aranda

Artelier, in its report, describes art as a good investment because of its ability to hold value over time. Unlike other investments, it does not experience a rise or fall due to market fluctuations. An example of this recently came into light when Invergordon Town Council announced its plan to sell an 18th-century bust for $3 million, which it initially brought for $6, per CNN. The reason behind the increase in value lies in the fact that it was created by a widely regarded artist, Edmé Bouchardon, and its style at present is popular in the art community.

Portrait of the sculptor Edmé Bouchardon (1698-1762) , 1758. Found in the Collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Artist Drouais, François-Hubert (1727-1775). (Photo by by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
Image Source: Portrait of the sculptor Edmé Bouchardon (1698-1762), 1758. Found in the Collection of the Musée du Louvre, Paris. Artist Drouais, François-Hubert (1727-1775). (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images via Getty Images)

The bust was modeled after landowner and lawmaker John Gordon by Edmé Bouchardon. Initially, the artifact's popularity was not due to its famous sculptor but because of its model, John Gordon. Gordon has been widely regarded as the founder of Invergordon – the small Scottish coastal town situated about 180 miles north of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Bouchardon created the bust in 1728 while living in Rome when Gordon was undergoing his European Grand Tour.

Apart from the bust, there are several other famous artifacts to Bouchardon's name. He was the sculptor behind Louis XV's 17-foot sculpture, placed in the Place de la Concorde, later destroyed in 1792. The same fate was meted out to many of his creations. Fortunately, two of his achievements managed to survive the carnage, the enormous Fountain of the Four Seasons on the rue de Grenelle and the series of over-lifesize statues of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Apostles in the church of Saint-Sulpice, per The Art Newspaper. In recent years, interest in his work and technique has reignited.



 

Though there are records of the bust being brought by the council, its path after that, till it was rediscovered in 1998, has been unclear. Even if there is evidence, it has not been made available to the public. In 1998, it was found by Maxine Smith, a local councilor, who, in her interview with The Scotsman, shared that it was being used as a doorstop in an industrial estate. 

She added, "The insurance team got in and we found that it was worth so much money. Back then, it was worth about $246,000." After analysis, it remained under the custody of Invergordon Town Council and was loaned to the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Getty Center in Los Angeles for display. In Scotland, though, it is kept out of the public eye in the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery due to security risks.



 

Sotheby's, one of the world's most renowned art brokers, suggested to the council that the bust had reached its peak value of $3 million. The Invergordon Town Council prepared a report in which the brokers shared how they had already arranged for a buyer willing to purchase the bust for that value. It has prompted the members to arrange a meeting to decide on the bust's future. The statement shared by the council stated that the funds from the sale if it goes through, will be utilized to 'reactivate' the Invergordon Common Good Fund to further aid the community. It was emphasized that the sale would go through only after a collective agreement from the community.

The council will conduct a public consultation under section 104 - Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 to announce any decision-making regarding any proposal to sell the Bouchardon bust, reported The Highland Council.

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