The Dallas Museum of Art has scraped together a sizable pile of money from donors and made what Director Maxwell Anderson calls “a very reasonable offer” for a painting which is estimated to be in the $200 million range, but Anderson’s quotes in D Magazine are full of breaking-it-gently phrases: “there are certain things you can’t control” and “you put together a war chest and you make an offer. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work,” etc. It doesn’t help that a Raphael drawing just sold for a record $47 million at Sotheby’s, which is likely to push prices up.
Apparently, it’s some sort of test for Dallas: Anderson wants to find out if there’s enough mad money for something splashy like this Leonardo, which would make the DMA the holder of one of only two of the Renaissance master’s works in the US. More likely, the Leonardo is a stalking horse: bait that will flush cash out of the bushes that can them be re-targeted for more sensible, but less showy, acquisitions. Anderson said the attempt “raised the bar of what the art of the possible at the DMA should be.”