Friday, 25 May 2012

Van Gogh sampled some of the good life in London in his day. Brixton was his choice of location and this is my story about the auction of his former premises.


Van Gogh’s former Brixton lodgings were yesterday sold for £565,000 to a buyer who had not yet walked inside the premises.

James Wang bought the grade II listed property at 87 Hackford Road, as a huge fan of Vincent Van Goghs’s work and as a father to three daughters studying art in university.

The property which is now in a derelict condition has many of the original features including a fireplace, wooden floors, and even an outside toilet all of which would have been used in 1874 when the artist lived there with his sister.

Mr. Wang explained his plans for the property saying: “I think I would like to make the project like a private museum. It is all because of my children, my three daughters are all artists, so they and my wife will support me. “

The house was bought by the seller, Mark Morley-Smith’s parents in the 1950’s and it was not until the 1970’s that it was discovered to be the former home of The Sunflowers painter. A discovery that was an exciting revelation for Mr. Morley-Smith as he had often slept in Van Gogh’s old bedroom.

From the 1970’s onwards it became a huge tourist attraction when a blue plaque was erected by English Heritage to declare the Van Gogh connection. Mr. Morley-Smith’s mother would often let visitors and film crew enter the house to take pictures.

Before the auction Mr. Morley-Smith’s wife told of their hope for the future of the property: “ It’s a bit sad in a way, I hope whoever buys it will restore it and that they don’t convert it into a modern style house, it’s got such lovely features.”

This has been the first time in 65 years that this property has been on the market and since its arrival Savills Auctioneers said they had interest from all sides of the globe hearing from potential buyers as far and wide as Russia and Van Gogh’s own country of Holland.

The auctioneers who started the bidding at £400,000 said: “We expected it to go somewhere between 525 ad 550 so it’s a bit more then we expected so we are really pleased with that.” 

The house which will need restoring due to its derelict state, was home to the Dutch artist between 1873 and 1874 while he worked for the art dealer Goupil and Cie in Covent garden.

While living there, Van Gogh often wrote to his brother and once said; “I’m getting on well here.” “I’ve got a lovely home…”

It is also believed while there, he fell in love with his landlady’s 19 year old daughter, Eugenie Loyer, but his love was unrequited. 

A sketching of the property’s terrace by Van Gogh can now be seen in a museum in Amsterdam, however it remains to be seen if his former home will feature the rich yellows, oranges, and reds that made his work so famous and unique.



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