Archive | March, 2012

Doodles for Hunger

15 Mar

Heritage is pleased to present a special online charity auction of 100 celebrity doodles.  The bidding starts at $1 for each of the signed drawings, and all of the proceeds benefit the St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters. 

I’m super excited.  What a fun way to buy something cute and support a great cause.  Bidding ends April 1st, so there’s plenty of time to get clicking!

I particulary like this one by Joan Baez, but Blake Lively’s doodle of New York in a snow globe is really fun.  And the Lily Pulitzer design is amazing too.

Joan Baez: Musician’s Doodle for Hunger Benefiting St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters
Sketch on Paper
9 inches x 12 inches
SOLD: $120

Artists, entertainers, athletes, politicians, and business celebrities put their artistic and creative skills to good use by doodling. Proceeds from Doodle for Hunger allow St. Francis Food Pantries & Shelters to give support to a network of charitable programs that provide a broad range of services for those in need, including the provision of food, clothing, shelter, and related social services for the poor. Special conditions of sales apply.

UPDATE:  The auction realized $14,737 for the St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters.  Success!


Do you like caviar?

14 Mar

Well, then I have the serving piece for you!

This stunning sterling silver sturgeon (say that 3 times fast) rests on top of a large base with waves and shells.  It holds pounds of caviar…..pounds, not ounces! 

The maker of this piece is Greg Dennis, who started his career as an apprentice with Wakely & Wheeler.  He then worked at Asprey for 12 years before becoming self employed 17 years ago.  His extensive experience is sought by the most prestigious gold and silversmith shops in the country.  His shop is located in Mayfair, close to Bond Street.

G.J. Dennis Gold and Silversmith, London, England, 2002
Marks: (lion passant), (leopard’s head), (jubilee mark), EE, C, 925
33-1/2 inches long (85.1 cm)
1196 troy ounces

The monumental caviar server on an oval wooden base, stylized waves and shells to the body, liner with two rings supports frame for five glass caviar receptacles, cast sturgeon to the removable lid. Originally commissioned by the Silver Fund, London, England.

Estimate: $70,000 – $100,000. 

The melt value of the silver in this piece alone is over $36,000….

Spotlight on Frankart

13 Mar

In the upcoming June sale of 20th Century Design, there are a number of lots attributed to Frankart, and honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.  So I did a little digging…..

Frankart, Inc. was the name of a New York company that manufactured “art moderne” pieces in the 1920s.  The founder and president of Frankart was sculptor Arthur (von) Frankenberg, after which the company was named. 

Frankenberg wanted to create functional, affordable art for everyone’s budget. His designs featured sculptural nymph figures, posed as decorative accents or supports for various objects. Frankenberg prided himself on creating decorative objects that were also highly functional, such as lamps, bookends, vase stands and ash stands.

From 1922 to 1932, less than 100 designs were patented. After only 10 years in production, Frankart closed its doors, but the highly recognizable designs are regularly sought after at auction. 

For more information see David Negley’s article on the history of Frankart by a former employee HERE

Frankart, Inc., New York, New York, circa 1930
Marks: FRANKART. INC, PAT. DES. 82197
26-1/4 inches high (66.7 cm)

The smoker’s stand with gunmetal patina, elongated female nude holding hoop supporting ashtray with three cigar rests, figure upon stepped base.

Appears as No. T333 in The Frankart Handbook for Season 1932-1933.

Estimate: $700-1,000

UPDATE: SOLD for $5,313 including buyer’s premium.

I’m not a cat-lover…

7 Mar

…but apparently alot of people are.  That said, this painting by German artist Julius Adam is so freakin’ cute.  They just look so fluffy and nice and…well…cute!

JULIUS ADAM (German, 1852-1913)
Curiosity and the Butterfly
Oil on wood panel
11 x 8-1/2 inches (27.9 x 21.6 cm)
Signed upper right: Jul Adams

Private collection, Los Angeles.

Estimate: $5,000-7,000

To be sold in the Fine American and European Art auction on May 15th.

UPDATE:  SOLD for $5,000 including buyer’s premium.

Best News Ever

7 Mar


Weekly Internet Luxury Accessories Auction

Luxury Auctions are now coming weekly!

The weekly Luxury auctions are geared towards vintage dealers and savvy collectors (i.e. me and you!), and will feature authentic, vintage and current pieces by Chanel, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta and other major designers all starting at $1 with no reserve. See I told you it was the Best News Ever!  Matt Rubinger is starting small….only 15-20 bags per week.  And Matt says there will be at least one Hermes Birkin or Kelly bag available in the weekly sales. Let the bidding begin!!  

The items will be presented only online and bidding is only taken through our website. The auctions close every Tuesday at 10:00 PM Central Time, and a new one begins shortly thereafter. Each auction will have photographs, condition reports, and short descriptions.

The first auction launches Tuesday, March 13th – with the bidding ending the following Tuesday night, March 20th.

I know I’m excited!

More Details on the Sonnabend Estate Case…

6 Mar

Janet Novack at provides us with a little more insight into the Sonnabend Estate vs. the IRS case.

Legendary modern art dealer Ileana Sonnabend died in 2007 at the age of 92. Her heirs sold off works by modern masters Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly to pay estate taxes of $331 million to Uncle Sam and $140 million to New York State.  The most famous piece in her collection — “Canyon” by Robert Rauschenberg—  was not even considered for sale because the collage contains a stuffed bald eagle and selling it would be a criminal offense, punishable by a year in federal jail.  The estate had three appraisals done, and all three appraisers agreed independently that the fair market value of the artwork was $0, since it could not be sold legally on the open market.  The IRS says the work is worth $65 million and is demanding an additional $29 million in tax and an $11.7 million “gross valuation misstatement” penalty from the estate. 


We know Ralph Lerner’s position on the case.  He’s the one representing the Sonnabend Estate and filing suit in U.S. Tax Court against the IRS in protest of the back taxes and penalties owed on “Canyon”.  Lerner fumes: “The government is saying we want $35 million in tax but if you sell it to get the money we’ll put you in jail.”  It’s Catch-22.

California art law attorney, Joy Berus, is not surprised by the IRS’s position, as there is case law that contraband items in an estate (drugs, stolen art, stolen jewels, etc.) can be valued for estate tax purposes at their  black or “illicit market” value.  So what should you do?  Berus tells clients to “get rid of it before they die” to avoid this situation for your heirs.  Donating the works to a museum seems to be the best solution – but there’s no financial benefit for doing so, as the giver won’t qualify for an income tax deduction.  UGH, but at least the heirs won’t be stuck paying tax on a supposed black market value they can’t (legally) realize.  Says Berus regarding Rauschenberg’s “Canyon”: “Under current case law, it is includable in the estate and the IRS can value it based on the the black market value. But it doesn’t seem logical or fair.”

I’m excited to see what happens.  I think there is a real opportunity here to establish new case law that makes sense and doesn’t punish people for following the law.

Illustration Art Recap

5 Mar

2012 March 1-2 Illustration Art Signature Auction- Beverly Hills

Illustration Art soars again, with a spectacular first sale of the season.  Congratulations to Ed Jaster and Todd Hignite for a job well done on a marathon two-day sale in Beverly Hills.  The sale totaled just over $3million, almost doubling the pre-sale low estimate of the sale.  Pin-Ups ruled the sale, taking 8 of the top 10 lots.

857 of 872 lots sold
96% by value
98% by lot

The top lot of the sale was none other than Gil Elvgren’s Vision of Beauty (Unveiling), which zoomed past its estimate of $50,000-75,000 to a final selling price of $140,500.  Known for his sassy pin-ups in a variety of undress, complete nudes by the artist are rare, and collectors took note.

Other highlights include:

Charles Addams’ Sad Movie, New Yorker magazine cartoon illustration, sold for $40,625. A world record for the artist!



Hugh Ward’s Spicy Adventure Stories cover illustration from April 1937, sold for $62,500.





And my favorite Elvgren, Let’s Eat Out, sold for $104,500.





Of the ones to watch – here are the results:

Hannes Bok’s Hocus Pocus Universe, Science Stories digest cover from October 1953, sold for $21,250.  Not too shabby for a piece estimated to sell between $3000 and $5000.




Joseph Leyendecker’s Kuppenheimer Good Clothes (Banjo Player), sold for $33,750.  The cover lot. It sold just over the low estimate of $30,000.  I honestly thought it would do much better.  The colors and design are so vibrant and classic.



And Norman Rockwell’s preliminary drawing for The Roadblock, sold for $32,500 – just under the low estimate of $40,000.  A great piece, and a good price, but I think we were hoping it would be more appealing to collectors than it actually was.