Our cover this month, Adolescence by Salvador Dalí, sold for $1,452,500 at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale Including Property from the Collection of Herbert and Adele Klapper on Nov. 11, 2018 in New York City. It’s no secret that the works of Dalí, an artist who arguably needs no introduction, are highly sought after, with this particular painting having quite the journey.
Adolescence was actually one of two major paintings that were stolen from a Dutch museum in 2009. The theft occurred in broad daylight, when a group of masked men with a gun threatened staff and visitors at the Scheringa Museum of Realist Art in Spanbroek, North Holland. They escaped via a getaway car with the paintings. According to artnet.com, the paintings were eventually presented to a criminal gang as a form of payment, after exchanging hands some 10 times between 2009 and 2016, but the organization in turn contacted Arthur Brand, a Dutch art historian who moonlights as an art crime investigator, who negotiated the return of the works through a go-between, allegedly because the gang feared the repercussions of being found guilty of the destruction or resale of artwork.
Happy endings like this one are rare in the art world, with only about 5 percent to 10 percent of stolen works being successfully recovered, according to Brand. Adolescence is a particularly striking piece; an optical illusion featuring a young Dalí with his beloved nanny, with the figure of the nanny doubling as the nose and lips to the eyes appearing in the distant hills. Just like many of Dalí’s works, not everything is what it appears to be at first. Gail E. Cohen makes this same point in her article, “Tax Reform Spurs Implementation of Planning Strategies,” p. 17, positing that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which was supposed to lower taxes, may actually have increased taxes for some individuals and trusts.