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:

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.

Munch Sells for Record Price!

3 May

Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale was held last night in New York.  So many people were trying to watch the sale online that the server crashed……reminds me of the first Victoria’s Secret fashion show held online that also crashed from all the interested viewers.

The highlight of the sale was Edvard Munch’s The Scream.  We’ve been waiting for months to see this fantastic piece sell.  Will it or will it not be the new world record for an artwork sold at auction?  Yes it will!

Lot #20 Edvard Munch estimate on request, reported to be around $80 million.
The bidding started at $40 million and quickly went up to $50 million, then steadily on to $80 million, then $91 million where it slowed and hit $100 million and at $107 million it hammered,  $119,922,500 with buyer’s premium.

The New York Times reports:  “As soon as the hammer fell, rumors began circulating about who the buyer could be. Among the names floated were the financier Leonard Blavatnik, the Microsoft tycoon Paul Allen and members of the Qatari royal family.”  My bet is the buyer’s identity will not remain a secret for long…..

Carol Vogel has the full story HERE.


Vanity Fair Takes on Knoedler

24 Apr




In the May issue, Vanity Fair reports on “The Knoedler Gallery Forgery Scandals and Shuttering“.  It’s an insightful article by Michael Shnayerson on Ann Freedman and the scandal involving the “David Herbert Collection” treasure trove, including works by Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Franz Kline, and Jackson Pollock,  now thought to be complete fakes. 

After 165 years, the Knoedler Gallery shut its doors last November amid allegations it sold forgeries, though Knoedler has said that the closing was a business decision unrelated to the lawsuits that have been filed against them.  Knoedler, at 19 East 70th Street, had been rattled by a series of changes over the past four years, including the recession in 2008.  In October 2009, Ann Freedman, the gallery’s president and an employee of 31 years, resigned.  Two months later, the gallery put the landmark Italian Renaissance-style town house that it has occupied for the past 41 years on sale for $59.9 million.  In February 2011, the building was sold for $31 million.  In November 2011, the gallery announced it was closing.

Once thought to be one of the most respected galleries of fine art, there is a big cloud hanging over Knoedler’s head.  When I saw old Knoedler gallery labels on the back of paintings, I got excited.  I knew that they handled the best and that the work was authentic almost without question.  Now, I need to re-think.  Knowing now that it’s very likely that Knoedler sold forgeries at times, I cannot make the assumption that works with a Knoedler label must be right.   

Nobody’s perfect.  Galleries and auction houses can make mistakes.  But the best companies will correct their mistakes immediately….reputation saved.  It’s more difficult though, when your mistakes are worth tens of millions.  That’s alot money to refund at a moment’s notice.  It will be interesting to see how the court cases proceed over the next few years.

“Munch” Madness

17 Apr

I’m so excited about Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” coming up for auction at Sotheby’s New York in May.  It’s going to be an amazing event.

Before it heads to auction in New York, the last version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” in private hands is currently on view at Sotheby’s London, where it has attracted an unheard-of 5,200 visitors in four days.  Munch executed four versions of his most famous work.  The other three are currently in museums.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors with very deep pockets.  Word-of-mouth says that the painting is expected to sell upwards of $80 million.

So tight was the security that bags were searched at the door, and visitors had to undergo body and screen searches watched constantly by security guards before entering a darkened room where the icon, protected by layers of invisible glass, was stage-lit with almost ecclesiastical reverence.  No wonder; two other versions of the painting have been stolen from Norwegian museums in recent years.


Property from the Olsen Collection
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
The Scream
Signed E. Munch and dated 1895 (lower left)
Pastel on board in the original frame
32 x 23-1/4 inches
Executed in 1895.
Estimate upon Request

Fine Silver & Vertu Recap

12 Apr

The Fine Silver & Vertu Auction was a big success yesterday.  Congratulations to Tim Rigdon, Karen Rigdon, and Anne Taylor Tipton for a job well done on a marathon sale in Dallas.  The sale totaled just over $1 million, which is quite strong for a dedicated sale to silver flatware, hollowware, and small items.

633 of 724 lots sold
87% by value
87% by lot


The top lot of the sale was the monumental G.J. Dennis silver caviar server – the epitome of modern luxury – created in London in 2002, which sold for $68,500 (including buyer’s premium).  What a stunning piece to anyone’s party.



Other highlights include:

The Peter Muller-Munk Studio, New York, New York, circa 1930
Sold for $31,250




Gorham Manufacturing Co., Providence, Rhode Island, 1967
Sold for $30,000


Gorham Manufacturing Co., Providence, Rhode Island, 1899
Sold for $22,500




Overall, we are thrilled with the sale.  Strong prices were set for European as well as American silver.  The Chinese Export and silver overlaid glass pieces sold very well, too.  The market is strong for unusual and unique pieces and for designer-driven pieces.  “Everyday” plain silver items are sluggish over the melt value.

Silver Sale Today

11 Apr

All eyes are on the caviar server today….will it sell?  Fingers crossed!




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.

SOLD!!! $68,500 including buyer’s premium.