Archive | November, 2011

A Word About Buyer’s Premium…

30 Nov

Heritage released the following statement just before Thanksgiving:

Heritage Auctions Buyer’s Premiums For Art, Entertainment, Jewelry, Natural History And Books To Change, Effective Jan. 1, 2012

Heritage Auctions has announced that, effective Jan. 1, 2012, the structure of its Buyer’s Premium (BP) will be changing in several of its categories. While 13 of the company’s 33 categories will remain at 19.5% or 15%, the rest of the Heritage categories will implement the change.

“We make very careful and considered decisions at Heritage, and this was not one that we came to lightly,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “Heritage is a major player on the world auction stage, and our BP rates will now be competitive with the rest of the world’s key auctioneers.”

In the categories of American Indian Art, American Art, European Art, Furniture & Decorative Arts, Illustration Art, Jewelry, Lalique & Art Glass, Luxury Accessories, Modern & Contemporary Art, Music & Entertainment, Natural History, Photography, Pre-Columbian, Rare Books, Silver & Vertu, Texas Art, Timepieces, Vintage Guitars and Western Art, buyers will pay a BP of 25% of the hammer price on the first $50,000 of each lot purchased, 20% on the portion between $50,000 to $1,000,000 and 12% on any amount more than $1,000,000.

The minimum BP of $14 per lot will also continue to apply.

Ok, so what does this really mean for those of us (including me!) who can’t do math in their head very fast?  It means that calculating the buyer’s premium in your head while bidding becomes a complicated mess.  So here’s a cheat sheet:

  • If hammer is < or = $56 — price realized = hammer + $14
  • If hammer is < or = $50,000 — price realized = hammer + 25%
  • If hammer is < or = $1million — price realized = (hammer + 20%) + $2,500
  • If hammer is > $1million — price realized = (hammer + 12%) + $82,500

Again, so what does this really mean?  It means that Heritage is following in line with the buyer’s premiums already set for some time at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.  Bonhams & Butterfield’s also moved to this scale earlier this year.  With an even playing field on the buyer’s side, all four of the world’s top auction houses have the ability to be the most competitive on obtaining top tier consignments for the sales.  Great objects are still selling very well at auction in this economic climate.  The competition for consignments will hopefully bring out the best items from storage for their chance to shine on the auction block.  

Although we grumble about it, raised buyer’s premium rates are nothing new and are to be expected from time to time.  I, too, have to pay the increased buyer’s premium on anything I buy at auction.  No employee discounts apply!


It’s Here….It’s Finally Here!

29 Nov

“The Great Big American Auction,” with Ty Pennington and Heritage Auctions, set to Air Thursday, Dec. 8 on ABC

ABC has announced that it will air The Great Big American Auction, starring Ty Pennington  and featuring exclusively Heritage Auctions’ experts, auction services, and staff, in a made-for-TV auction event, at 10 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, Dec. 8.

Ty Pennington has been transforming people’s homes and lives for several years now as the host of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and has now found an exciting new way to change lives by turning their memorabilia and assorted hidden finds into treasures worth life-changing amounts of money.

After scouring flea markets, cellars, attics and yard sales to find one-of-a-kind items whose owners have no idea of their real value, Pennington, with a team of experts from Heritage Auctions, tags the best items and brings them to The Queen Mary oceanliner in Long Beach, CA for The Great Big American Auction. The exceptional collectibles range from first edition classic comic books to rare American currency to an early 20th century baseball icon’s checkbook, and much more in-between, all chosen for their rarity, value and the uniqueness of the consignor’s story. Objects originally bought for mere dollars, or literally plucked right out the trash will go for thousands of dollars as their lucky owners’ lives are changed for the better.

***This is going to be fun.  There are a few behind-the-scenes moments that the public will see for the first time, as not everything has value.  Specialists usually have to wade through 90% of “stuff” before finding the true treasures.  This show will show a few disappointments as well as the elations that come with auctions.***

I HEART New York

23 Nov

New York in the Fall is a wonderful place to be.  The leaves have changed color. There’s a briskness in the air. The New Yorkers are all out in the finest outerwear – funny hats, bulky scarves, and the most gorgeous of furs.  It wasn’t that cold outside, but since when does weather dictate fashion?!

Heritage hosted three auctions this past weekend at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion on 79th Street.  The Fine Watches and Timepieces sale sold phenomenally well.  The sale was led by an exceptional Piaget Protocole 18k white gold, diamond, and sapphire wristwatch that sold for $50,787.50.  It’s very sparkly.

The Vintage and Contemporary Photography sale was ok.  Not great, but definitely not terrible either.  Rachel Peart, Associate Director for Photography, should be proud.  She’s gaining momentum, and a couple of great prices were achieved — the Mapplethorpe shoe sold for $47,800 and the Marilyn Minter shoes sold for $20,315.  Just goes to show that owning photographs of shoes is the next best thing to owning the shoes themselves!  (Though it would be much cheaper just to the buy the shoes…just saying.)

The Lalique and Art Glass sale was amazing.  The top lot was a Tiffany Studios daffodil table lamp, which sold for a solid $56,763 including buyer’s premium.  The over 500 lot sale sold for an amazing total of $1.849 million.  Nick Dawes, Vice President, Special Collections, was absolutely delighted with the turnout and strong bidding from the internet, phones, and audience.  The results were strong for most works, though the Schneider Le Verre Francais single-owner collection was hit and miss.

Next up is the Fine Jewelry, Luxury Accessories, Fine Silver, and Decorative Arts sales – December 5-6-7 in Dallas.  The preview starts Thursday night, December 1st, with a big party.  It’s definitely not one to be missed.  See you there! 

(Yes, I know I featured the Bob Knox painting again of the New York skyline….can’t help it….it’s my favorite.)

Late Afternoon, Venice

10 Nov

Oh, I wish I was in Venice sipping on limoncello at Harry’s Bar on a lazy late afternoon.  Sigh. 

Edward Steichen’s moody image of a Venetian canal was taken in 1913, but still feels relevant to the Venice of today.  The gondola may be more of a tourist trap rather than a primary mode of transportation, but it’s been a part of the city for hundreds (if not thousands) of years and will likely continue to be a symbol of the historic city.  No trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride!

This image is a photogravure.   Well, what does that mean?  A photogravure is “a photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio print that can reproduce the detail and continuous tones of a photograph.”  Half photograph, half print, you get the best of both early processes – the details of a photograph with the (relatively) non-fading qualities of an etching.

Edward Steichen’s image was reproduced in Alfred Stieglitz’s quarterly photographic journal, Camera Work.  Published from 1903 to 1917, Camera Work featured high-quality photogravres from the leading photographers at the time in an attempt to establish photography as a fine art.  It worked.  And these photogravures have become collector’s items.  They are relatively easy to find – Heritage’s Vintage and Contemporary Photography auction typically offers a few examples.  You  can also find them for sale through selected photography dealers around the world.

EDWARD STEICHEN (American, 1879-1973)
Late Afternoon, Venice, 1913
6-1/8 x 7-3/8 inches (15.5 x 18.7 cm)
Estimate: $800-1,200

UPDATE:  Sold for $1,075.50.

Renoir Sells!

8 Nov

The American and European Art sale  was hit and miss, but Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Le Bouquet fetched a handsome price at $657,250 (including buyer’s premium).  The sale totalled a respectable, but not fantastic $1.57 million.  Works fresh to the market were the clear winners.  Condition and provenance also played big parts.   

92 of 147 lots sold
78% by value
63% by lot

It’s not a record, but still a wonderful price of $657, 250 for the Renoir.  It sold to a private client bidding on HA Live.  The Raeburn  portrait of General Henry Wynyard sold very well at $28,680.  As predicted, the Salmon failed to secure an opening bid.  It’s still available on if anyone would like to make an offer.

Other highlights from the sale included the pair of Osthaus Sporting art paintings from the Houston Club, all of the Edouard Cortes street scenes, and Daniel Ridgway Knight’s Young Woman Knitting.  The Knight is beautifully rendered, but I question the logistics of the subject.  Who knits standing up outside in the garden?  Really?  She must be quite talented to keep the ball under her arm and work with four needles.  I’m impressed….

Next auction is the Vintage and Contemporary Photography sale in New York on Saturday, November 19th.

American and European Art Auction

7 Nov

No catchy title today, but that doesn’t mean anything less than awesome for the American and European Art sale happening at Slocum tomorrow.

147 total lots
Pre-sale Estimate: $1.7 million – $2.5 million

Top lot:
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (French, 1841-1919)
Le Bouquet, 1910
Oil on canvas
17 x 12-1/2 inches (43.2 x 31.8 cm)
Signed lower left: Renoir
Two paste-down labels on stretcher bars bearing stock numbers: no. 4367 and no. 10401
Estimate: $500,000 – $700,000

Impeccable provenance, literature, and exhibition history.  It’s a stunner and has garnered LOTS of pre-sale interest.  Fingers crossed for a bidding war!


One to watch:
HENRY RAEBURN (British, 1756-1823)
Portrait of General Henry Wynyard, circa 1811-1819
Oil on canvas
30 x 25-1/2 inches (76.2 x 64.8 cm)
Estimate: $8,000 – $12,000

Lots of interest in this fine portrait.  It also has extensive provenance, literature, and exhibition hisotry.  I’m seeing a trend….


Potential stinker:
ROBERT SALMON (Scottish/American, 1775-1844)
The Estridge in Two Views Off Dover, 1800
Oil on canvas
26-1/2 x 43 inches (67.3 x 109.2 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: R. SALMON / 1800
Estimate: $125,000 – $175,000

No bids yet….but there’s still time.  Where are my Maritime Art buyers?  You definitely need to look at this one.

Texas and Western Art Sale Updates

7 Nov

Saturday was a day to remember. 

W.R. Leigh’s Home, Sweet Home soared to nearly double its pre-auction estimate selling for $1.195 million and setting a new world record price for the artist in Heritage Auctions’ impressive $2.27 million Art of the American West Auction. The painting came to auction from The Property of Philip Jonsson, son of former Dallas Mayor and Texas Instruments Co-Founder Eric Jonsson. Overall, the auction was small but select, and the consignors were rewarded with great prices. 

55 of 74 lots sold
95% by value
74% by lot

The Leigh set a world auction record at $1,195 million.  The Sandzen sold well, but not crazy-go-nuts, at $47,800.  The Hulings did not sell.  Sad day.  All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.


The Texas Art Auction continued to have much bidding success, with total sales just under $400,000.  There was standing room only in the auction room.  Was it because we had Sonny Bryan’s catering beer and barbeque……maybe, but the munchies and beverages loosened the wallets, as there was lots of action from the floor along with the phones and absentee bids.

75 of 98 lots sold
87% by value
77% by lot

The Onderdonk brought $65,725, just over the high estimate.  Not terrible, but we were hoping for more.  The Kermit Oliver portrait sold for $7,170, more than doubling the high estimate.  And I was totally wrong about the Robert Wood – a lucky collector won it for $13,145.

All in all, we’re definitely riding on Cloud Nine.  Next up – the Fine American & European Art sale tomorrow.