Archive | May, 2012

Happy Birthday Mr. Faberge!

30 May

In honor of Carl Faberge’s 166th birthday (after a little reminder from Google) – I thought I would share my favorite piece from his workshop. 

I was at Christie’s when this piece sold in 2002.  The Antiquities department sat between the Russian and Silver departments, so I usually got to see alot of cool things come through. 

Nothing was more fun than the Winter Egg.  It’s stunning.  I’d never seen such workmanship before!  And yes, I got to hold it.  Imagine that – holding a piece that was once held by the last Russian tsar.  What history!  And that history can be traced for almost 100 years, from the Faberge workshop in 1913 to its current location in Qatar.

Enjoy!

 

A HIGHLY IMPORTANT FABERGÉ IMPERIAL EASTER EGG WITH ORIGINAL SURPRISE GIVEN BY TSAR NICHOLAS II TO HIS MOTHER, THE DOWAGER EMPRESS MARIA FEODOROVNA AT EASTER 1913
workmaster Albert Holmström, St. Petersburg, designed by Alma Theresia Pihl, the surprise engraved FABERGÉ 1913

On a rock-crystal base formed as a block of melting ice, applied with platinum-mounted rose-diamond rivulets, the hinged rock-crystal detachable egg held vertically above by a pin and with rose-diamond set platinum borders, graduated around the hinge and enclosing in the top a cabochon moonstone painted on the reverse with the date 1913, the thinly carved transparent body of the egg finely engraved on the interior to simulate ice crystals, the outside further engraved and applied in carved channels with similar rose-diamond set platinum motifs, opening vertically to reveal the surprise – a platinum double-handled trelliswork basket, set with rose-diamonds and full of wood anemones, suspended from a platinum hook, each flower realistically carved from a single piece of white quartz with gold wire stem and stamens, the centre set with a demantoid garnet, some carved half open or in a bud, the leaves delicately carved in nephrite, emerging from a bed of gold moss, the base of the basket engraved FABERGÉ 1913
overall height of the egg 5 5/8in. (14.2cm.); height of the egg 4in. (10.2cm); height of the surprise 3¼in. (8.2cm.)

Provenance

Tsar Nicholas II
Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, Easter 1913
Wartski, bought in the Soviet Union in the late 1920’s
Acquired by Lord Allington in 1934
Sir Bernard Eckstein
Sotheby’s London, 8 February 1949, lot 128
The Late Bryan Ledbrook
Anonymous
Christie’s Geneva, 16 November 1994, lot 464, sold for $5,587,308 (SFR 7,263,500) world record price for a Fabergé item sold at auction
American private collector
Christie’s New York, 19 April 2002, lot 150, sold for $9,579,500
Qatari private collection

 

 

Warhols and Monkeys and Scribbles, oh my!

21 May

Tomorrow marks the Spring 2012 Modern and Contemporary Art auction.  Frank Hettig has put together a charming sale of works by the biggest names in modern and contemporary art.  On to the details…

170 lots
$1.8 – 2.5 million pre-sale estimate

Top lot:

ANDY WARHOL (American, 1928-1987)
Superman (from Myths), 1981
Color screenprint with diamond dust
38 x 38 inches (96.5 x 96.5 cm)
Ed. 113/200
Signed and numbered lower right
Estimate: $80,000 – $100,000

What’s not to love?  It has diamond dust to make it sparkle!

SOLD: $146,500 including buyer’s premium

Ones to watch:

ANDRÉ LANSKOY (French, 1902-1976)
Untitled, 1956/1957
Oil on canvas
77-1/4 x 38-1/4 inches (196.2 x 97.2 cm)
Signed lower left: Lanskoy
Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000

 A very nice abstract, for a very nice price. The phone bidders are lining up!

SOLD: $107,500 including buyer’s premium

DONALD ROLLER WILSON (American, b. 1938)
Gladys and Cookie, 1999
Oil on canvas
15-1/2 x 11-1/2 inches (39.4 x 29.2 cm)
Signed and dated along lower left canvas edge: Donald Roller Wilson. 1999/39
Estimate: $10,000 – $15,000

Is it the smoking cat or the monkey with the big bow that has everyone LOVING this piece?

SOLD: $21,250 including buyer’s premium

Big maybe:

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT (American, 1960-1988)
In Color, 1986
Oil, acrylic, oilstick and mixed media on paper
24 x 26-1/2 inches (61.0 x 67.3 cm)
Estimate: $120,000 – $200,000

It’s typical of the artist’s work…..but does anyone care?

UPDATE:  bought in

Money Words

17 May

I just discovered the artworks of Justine Smith, and I think she’s brilliant.  Yes, her works are created with a political edge to them and are her statements on how money touches all aspects of our lives, rather than a lazy day do-it-yourself project.  But they are graphically stunning and inspire me.

I’ve always loved foreign currency – bright colors, big graphics, and so different from our own boring dollars.  But what do you do with a handful of cash that you can’t spend?  You can turn it into art!

A few of my favorite things…

17 May

The upcoming auction of 20th Century Design on June 13th is shaping up to be my favorite sale of this year.  I want it all!  And it just so happens that I have a birthday coming up….

Here are a few of my favorite things….well my favorites as of today….

A PAIR OF CAT BOOKENDS AND CAT DOOR STOP DESIGNED BY WALTER VON NESSEN FOR CHASE BRASS AND COPPER
Designed by Walter Von Nessen (American, 1889-1943)
Manufactured by Chase Brass & Copper Co., Waterbury, Connecticut, circa 1935
Estimate: $600-900, opening bid $300

Great looking cats!  I love the simplistic forms.

SOLD for $625, including buyer’s premium.

 

A GERMAN AMBER AND SILVERED METAL TABLE CLOCK ATTRIBUTED TO NAUJOKS, MANN AND GEDUK
Koenigsberg, Germany, circa 1940
Estimate: $1200-1800, opening bid $900

The amber in this clock seems to just glow….very elegant and modern!

SOLD for $2,125, including buyer’s premium.

 

A FOUR PIECE MANNING BOWMAN CHROMED METAL AND BAKELITE COFFEE SET
Manning Bowman Company, Meriden, Connecticut, circa 1928
Estimate: $100-200, opening bid $1

A great looking set from 1928 that’s affordable?  Sold!

SOLD for $200, including buyer’s premium.

 

AN AMERICAN WOOD AND CHROME BARTENDER-FORM CIGARETTE DISPENSER AND LIGHTER
Maker unidentified, American, circa 1930
Estimate: $300-500, opening bid $150

How much fun would this guy be at my next cocktail party?

SOLD for $406.25, including buyer’s premium.

 

AN AMERICAN THREE PIECE GLASS MARTINI SET
Maker unknown, American, circa 1935
Estimate: $25-50, opening bid $1

LOVE!  The perfect martini set…..now if I could only convince a colleague of mine to share his martini recipe….they’re lethal!

SOLD for $237.50, including buyer’s premium.

I’m sure I’ll be posting more of my favorite things in the next few weeks.  The sale has a great mix of interesting items in good condition in all price ranges.  I’ve been saving my pennies all year for this sale.  It’s going to be fun!

American & European Art Auction Recap

16 May

Yesterday’s American & European Art Auctions were a mixed bag.  Some big hits and more than a few misses peppered the three sessions.  Overall, the sale total was just north of $5million including buyer’s premium, which fell below the agressive $8million low estimate expected for the auctions.

Overall:
65.5% by lot
58% by value
$5,007,313 total sales

 

The highlight of the day was William Adolphe Bouguereau’s lovely Fishing for Frogs, a large oil on canvas from 1882.  Three bidders tried to take this work home, with the winning client spending $1.5million hammer, $1,762,500 with premium, to make it his.

Throughout the day, there was quite alot of chatter around that clients were saving their pennies for the last session of the night.  The Jean and Graham Devoe Williford Charitable Trust Collection was a resounding success, with 164 of 188 lots selling for just over $1million.  We were very pleased with the results, as multiples bidders were spending freely to obtain an artwork from the collection.  The top lot in this session was Sanford Robinson Gifford’s glorious View from Above, Kaaterskill Cove from 1860.  Estimated at $5,000-7,000, the bidding soared quickly to the final price of $68,500.  Throughout the 3-1/2 hour session, I was bidding with many clients who knew Graham Williford and shared their thoughts and stories with me while waiting for their turn to bid.  It seems like he was very well beloved by his friends, though one client mentioned that Williford was great, but don’t get in his way while he was trying to buy a painting!  I know the family is pleased with the results of this auction and knowing that the works are now being shipped off around the country to other great homes and collections.

American & European Art Auctions

14 May

Heritage’s Spring 2012 Fine American & European Art auctions are finally here!  Sales start tomorrow, May 15, at 10am with European Art, followed by American Art at 2pm and the Graham Williford Collection at 6pm.  It will be an exciting day for the fine art team, as the pre-sale interest in the artworks has been tremendous.

Here’s the scoop:
3                            catalogues
459                       total lots
$8-11 million   total estimate

Top lot in the sale:

WILLIAM ADOLPHE BOUGUEREAU (French, 1825-1905)
Fishing For Frogs, 1882
Oil on canvas
54 x 42 inches (137.2 x 106.7 cm)
Signed and dated and lower right: W. Bouguereau 1882

Estimate: $1,500,000 – $2,000,000

The cover lot of the European Art Auction is stunning, sentimental, spectacular – an absolutely lovely work that a private collector should snap up without hesitation. 

SOLD! $1,762,500 including buyer’s premium.

 

One to watch:

CHARLES ALLEN WINTER (American, 1869-1942)
Portrait of a Woman
Oil on canvas
12 x 10 inches (30.5 x 25.4 cm)
Signed lower left: Charles A. Winter

Estimate: $1,500 – $2,500

The cover lot of the Williford Collection is hypnotizing.  And many, many, many clients have been hypnotized in the days leading up to the sale.  Expect this piece to sail past the high estimate multiple times.

SOLD! $10,000 to a lucky bidder (includes buyer’s premium)

 

Big Maybe:

PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (French, 1841-1919)
Portrait d’une jeune femme, circa 1868-70
Pastel on paper
17-3/4 x 14-1/2 inches (45.1 x 36.8 cm)
Signed lower left and indistinctly dated: Renoir

Estimate: $650,000 – $950,000

Although the sitter is not named, it is very possible that Renoir is depicting Lise Tréhot, his model and mistress whom he painted around 20 times between 1865 and 1872.  It’s very nice, but perhaps a little pricey….we’ll see….

UPDATE – bought-in.

The “Buckner Ball”

7 May

If you’re a baseball fan, then you might have heard of Bill Buckner who committed the most notorious fielding error in baseball history.

1986 World Series. Game Six.  The Boston Red Sox lead the series 3-2 against the New York Mets.  The Red Sox are up 5-3 in the 10th and about to win the series to break the 68-year Curse. 

Then the Mets start a come-back, but are one out from losing the whole series.  Then Mookie Wilson gets up to bat and hits a grounder towards first and Bill Buckner misses the ball as it rolls through his legs.  Mets win. 

Right field umpire Ed Montague retrieved the baseball from where it lay in the grass beyond first base and made a small “X” in ballpoint ink near the stitching. He then sought out his friend, Mets traveling secretary Arthur Richman, and presented the ball to him. Richman entered the jubilant Mets clubhouse with the ball in hand, where the lucky left fielder inscribed the horsehide “To Arthur, the ball won it for us, Mookie Wilson, 10/25/86.” Other Mets rubbed the ball for luck or gratitude. One planted a kiss, leaving behind a brown chewing tobacco stain.

The ball was then sold by private auction to actor Charlie Sheen.  A few years later, Sheen sold the ball to Seth Swirsky, who consigned the ball to Heritage’s Signature Sports Collectibles Auction last Friday.  Amid heavy bidding competition, the lucky winner paid an outstanding $418,250 (including buyer’s premium) for this piece of baseball history. 

The “Buckner Ball” was the highlight of the three-day Sports auction.  2089 total lots sold for a smashing success that realized over $7 million.  (93% by value and 96% by lot)  Needless to say the department is quite pleased, the category is quite strong, and the clients are spending money.  It’s a win-win-win for everyone.