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The status of British neo-romantic artist Keith Vaughan is rising, and so are the prices of his art

Prices are rising for the Modern British neo-romantic

With the exhibition this month at the Olympia Fine Art Fair (26 February to 3 March), the market for work by the British artist Keith Vaughan looks set to rise further. Vaughan, who died in 1977, has had his ups and downs, with a peak in April 1991, when, according to Art Market Research figures (www.artmarketresearch.com), his index hit 10443 (the index takes 1000 in 1976 as its starting point). In the last 18 months his work has seen steadily increasing growth, moving from 4435 to 5522 in that period. “He is perceived to be the best English neo-romantic and his prices have shot up,” says Christopher Kingzett of Agnew’s. The highest price paid at auction stands at £44,000 (“Erotic fantasies”, sold at Sotheby’s in April 1991) and an “Interior with nude” made £35,000 last year (Sotheby’s Stanley Seeger collection, June 2001). At dealers, oils are currently in the £35/45,000 range but could go up to £70,000, “for a really great example,” says Anthony Hepworth, who is preparing the catalogue raisonné.

“He has been a consistently rising star,” continues Mr Hepworth, “who has been undervalued until now”. The market is reasonably well supplied with Vaughan’s work, particularly with works on paper, although the big canvases are rare. At Art 2002, Hepworth sold one fine example, showing two figures, at an undisclosed price, and was offering a 1969 landscape in gouache for £6,000. Agnew’s was featuring a very attractive still-life, “Village at sunrise” with a de Staël feel to it, priced at £25,000, and Austin/Desmond had an “Odysseus seen by the sirens” for £14,000.

One concern is that, as prices rise, so does the interest of forgers, and Anthony Hepworth warns that he has been offered a few fakes, generally watercolours or gouaches and composed of elements copied from books; he thinks one person is producing them.

The Olympia show will be the first major non-commercial exhibition of Vaughan’s work in 40 years (Agnew’s, which represented the estate, has had three), and draws on private collectors for the 100 or so pieces–oils, watercolours and drawings–on display.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Keith Vaughan'