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U.S. collector newest owner authenticated Rembrandt paintings

‘Cheap’ acquisitions pay off

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin - The vast art collection of U.S. industrialist Alfred Bader has been enriched with yet two more Rembrandt paintings. The Rembrandt Research Project recently authenticated two works owned by Bader, who had acquired them in transactions in 1993 and 2000, paying a total of about $250,000.

Austria-born and Kingston, Ontario and Harvard educated Bader (81) made his fortune as an organic chemist. In 1951, he founded the Aldrich Chemical Company, which merged with the Sigma Chemical Company of St. Louis in 1975. Sigma-Aldrich is now the world’s largest supplier of research chemicals.

The painting ‘Study of an old man with a beard’ had been offered for sale once in 1961, then as a real Rembrandt. A collector outbid Bader, paying $180,000. In 1993, the painting, then considered a ‘dubious’ Rembrandt, was auctioned again, but attracted no bids. A few days later, Bader bought it from the collector’s family for around $125,000.

The other now authenticated Rembrandt - ‘Study of an old man in profile’ - also was offered at an auction as a work from one of Rembrandt’s pupils. Willing to go as high as $250,000, Bader acquired the painting for $125,000. Both paintings have an insurance value of $6 million each. Bader plans to bequeath the ‘Old Man in Profile’ painting to his alma mater, the Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. The other painting he gave to his son.

Bader is putting another Rembrandt painting he owns up for sale at an imminent auction at Sotheby’s. ‘Minerva,’ a major historical painting by the Dutch Master, could bring at least $45 million, last year’s asking price. With that money, Bader intends to bid on the third recently authenticated Rembrandt, offered at the same auction. ‘Study of a woman with a white bonnet’ is expected to fetch over $4 million.

Bader also is an art dealer, offering paintings by such Dutch artists as Jan Blanckerhoff, Abraham Bloemaert, Wijbrand Hendricks and Johan Moreelse.