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Displaying items by tag: Bonhams

Bonhams raked in a total of £4.2 million ($7.1 million) at its fine jewelry sale on April 30 in London, on the back of its top three lots doubling and tripling their estimates.

The star of the sale was an exquisite Colombian emerald ring, of 10.49 carats and set between diamond shoulders, that brought $610,039, or more than triple its high estimate.

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The St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, will sell a number of works from its extensive fine art collection, including five portraits by Thomas Eakins. Eakins, a realist who lived and worked in Philadelphia, is widely considered one of the most important American artists in history.

Christie’s will facilitate a private consignment sale of the works, which mostly feature past faculty members and have been in the seminary’s possession for around 80 years.  A sixth Eakins painting, which was loaned to the seminary by the American Catholic Historical Society, will also be put up for consignment. In addition, the seminary is consigning a painting by the American Impressionist Colin Campbell Cooper as well as a work by the expressionist painter Alice Neel. Bonhams and Sotheby’s will broker those sales respectively. 

Before deciding to sell the works, the seminary had a committee of arts specialists and seminary alumni and administrators conduct a year-long study. The seminary looked into partnering with local museums and historical societies, hoping that one would offer to acquire the paintings, but none of the organizations voiced interest.

Proceeds from the sales will help fund a major renovation of St. Charles’ Main Line campus, which will include making the seminary smaller and renovating its existing facilities.

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On May 21, a long-lost portrait of Captain Gabriel Maturin by John Singleton Copley will be offered during Bonhams’ American Art sale in New York. The work was painted in 1771 during Copley’s six-month sojourn in New York City, four years prior to the American Revolution. The portrait, which was believed to have been lost until it was located in the U.S. and authenticated in 2011, is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000.

In 1768, Copley painted a portrait of New York-based Major General Thomas Gage, the Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Armed Forces in America. The work helped establish Copley among General Gage’s team and eventually led to a commission from Captain Gabriel Maturin, General Gage’s Chief of Staff.

Copley, the foremost artist in colonial America, rarely traveled outside of Boston. In fact, prior to his permanent relocation to Europe in 1774, his brief stay in New York City was the artist’s only venture outside of the New England city. Copley’s portrait of Captain Gabriel Maturin is one of approximately 25 portraits painted during the artist’s stay in New York. 

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Friday, 06 December 2013 17:15

Fragonard Portrait Nets Nearly $30 MIllion

A portrait by Jean-Honoré Fragonard of a French general fetched nearly $30 million, a world record price for the artist, at an auction held on December 5 at Bonhams in London. The works offered were provided by Unicef Germany and had been a part of what was once one of Europe’s largest private art collections. The entire sale garnered $31 million for the charity.

The works belonged to Dr. Gustav Rau, a German philanthropist and doctor who donated his collection to Unicef in 2001. For over a decade the collection has been embroiled in legal battles as some believe that Rau, who died in 2002, was not mentally fit during the time of the transaction. While the most recent court case deemed the transfer legitimate, Swiss authorities are currently reviewing the deal after a complaint was filed by the council in the district of Bülach, where the collection was once stored.

Unicef expects to net $161 million this year thanks to a series of sales from Rau’s collection.   

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Fourteen watercolors by the Spanish surrealist painter, Salvador Dali (1904-1989), will be sold at Bonham’s Impressionist and Modern Art auction in London on June 18, 2013. Commissioned by the publisher Jean-Paul Schneider in 1969, the watercolor fruit studies have been in private collections since their creation. The paintings are expected to garner a total of $1.5 million.

In the ‘FruitDali’ series, the painter takes traditional 19th century botanical lithographs, which were originally used as scientific illustrations, and paints over them using his iconic surrealist twist. Dali infuses each fruit with humanistic qualities including legs, arms, and facial expressions. The works are a testament to Dali’s ability to find human forms in the ever-inspiring natural world.

William O’Reilly, Director of Bonhams Impressionist department, said, “These compositions are a fabulous illustration of Dali’s artistic approach. By overlaying such traditional images with his famous artistic vocabulary of dragons, hooded figures, crutches and weeping eyes, he gives us an insight into his own hyper-fertile imagination.”

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The London branches of Sotheby’s and Bonhams will join forces with the Cologne-based auction house, Lempertz, to sell off works from the late Gustav Rau’s (1922-2002) vast collection. Rau, a well-known art collector and philanthropist, passed away suddenly in 2002, leaving his remarkable collection to Unicef’s German branch. Rau’s holdings, which include many Old Master and Impressionist paintings and sculptures, were estimated to be worth around $600 million at the time of the bequest.

While Unicef has sold a number of Rau’s works to fund ongoing projects over the years, this is the first time a significant portion of the collection has come up for sale. The auction, which is planned to take place this summer, will feature works by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), El Greco (1541-1614), and Claude Monet (1840-1926) among many others. The works are all in pristine condition as Rau either left his collection in storage or offered them to museums for exhibition purposes rather than hanging them in his own home.

All proceeds from the sales will benefit children’s causes, specifically in emerging countries. Rau, who spent much of his life working as a doctor in Africa, was a champion of clean drinking water initiatives and better vaccination practices in developing areas. Unicef plans to use a large portion of the funds to finish a children’s hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that Rau founded before his death.      

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An ornately decorated 18th century Chinese porcelain vase sold for a record-setting $83 million in London on November 11, 2010. The vase, which was made for the Qianlong Emperor, soared past its presale estimate and became the highest-selling Asian work of art ever offered at auction. However, the original buyer failed to pay for the vase and the piece is now being sold for less than half its record-setting price.  

The vase’s owners, Tony Johnson, a retired lawyer, and his mother, Gene, have held on to the work for over two years after the original sale without seeing a profit. Johnson and his mother recently found another buyer for the vase, which will sell for an undisclosed amount believed to be between $32.1 million and $40.2 million. The London-based auction house Bonhams helped facilitate the sale.

The recent price tag is much more sensible for the Qing-dynasty vase, which features a reticulated body painted in the famille rose palette. The sale of Chinese art and antiquities peaked in 2010, leading to a number of major sales that were not always realized. The demand for Chinese works of art has since leveled off.

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A 1930s Mercedes (DAI) may sell for more than $16 million in California this month as classic-car auctioneers test the market with an unprecedented lineup of big- ticket autos by names such as Ferrari, Bugatti and Bentley.

The Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster is one of only 30 built. It may exceed an auction record of $16.4 million, set by a Ferrari last year, and comfortably beat the price of a Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder convertible, one of three included in the series of sales, which is estimated at $9 million.

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Friday, 03 August 2012 11:12

Christie's "Odalisque" Controversy

Christie's is standing by its attribution of a painting to the Russian artist Boris Kustodiev, which is at the centre of a long-running authenticity battle after a judge in London ruled last week (28 July) that “the likelihood is that Odalisque was not painted by Kustodiev”.

Christie's was ordered to refund £1.7m to Aurora Fine Arts, a company owned by the Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, which purchased the work in 2005. The judge cleared the auction house of claims of negligence and misrepresentation.

A spokesman for the auction house says: “We are surprised and disappointed,” adding that it stands by its attribution to Kustodiev. When asked whether the company would appeal he says it is “considering its options.”

The painting is dated 1919 and depicts a nude woman asleep. It is known to have been exhibited in Riga, Latvia, in 1932 and first sold at Christie's London salesroom for £19,000 in 1989. It was sold again by the auctioneer to Aurora Fine Arts in 2005. Doubts are thought to have been raised by an art dealer soon afterwards. By 2010, Aurora had filed its lawsuit.

During the 20-day hearing, Alisa Borisovna Lyubimova, a research fellow at the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, said she was “almost 200% sure” that the work is not genuine. The judge also noted in his summing up that she would not change her view even if shown contemporary documents tending to suggest authenticity. Max Rutherston, who works as a consultant for Bonhams, argued that the quality of work by artists is not always consistently high and concluded that the painting was by Kustodiev's hand.

Archive material was presented, including research by Kustodiev's friend Vsevolod Voinov. His monograph of the artist's work notes a painting called Sleeping, 1919, which Christie's believes is the same work as Odalisque. Aurora, however, maintains that another list by Voinov refers to Sleeping as a drawing not a painting.

Debate during the hearing also focused on whether the signature on the work was contemporaneous with the rest of the painting.

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Thursday, 22 September 2011 03:50

Bonhams strikes a modern note

Since Bonhams announced its proposed £30 million rebuilding programme this summer, it is becoming clearer that the company means business. While it is cutting down on its outpost activities in Knowle in the Midlands, and in Dubai, it is expanding in more important areas. On Saturday, a glossy contemporary art catalogue was delivered to my door. Contemporary art is one of the biggest money-spinners in the auction business, and until this year, Bonhams had only dabbled at the fringes. But eight months ago, it hired Anthony McNerney, a specialist with experience both at Christie’s and Phillips de Pury & Co, to lead it into the future. To compete with the other three big art auctioneers, McNerney needed a team, and now, with the backing of chairman, Robert Brooks, Bonhams has its first contemporary art team: eight specialists, most with previous experience at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

Together they have assembled an intriguing sale of just 20 lots which will be held in the middle of Frieze week on October 13. That Brooks is putting money into the new venture is clear not just from the new level of staffing.

The catalogue for the 20 lots runs to more than 120 pages with colour reproductions and erudite texts on each lot, and highlights have been shipped for viewing in New York and Hong Kong.

The biggest jump for Bonhams, though, has been to offer financial inducements to sellers in terms of guarantees and advances. This has been an area in which Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips have long been involved to secure high-value items for sale. But for Bonhams, this will be the first time you will see the tell-tale symbols in the catalogues that are required by law to denote whether the auctioneer or a third party has guaranteed a sale regardless of the outcome, or has a financial interest in terms of part or full ownership of a lot. It only applies to three lots, but they are the most expensive ones.

Glenn Brown’s Little Death is one of the most consistently sought after paintings by museum curators exhibiting his work. From a series that was based on the paintings of Frank Auerbach which challenge the notion of originality in art, it was included in Brown’s retrospective exhibition at Tate Liverpool in 2009. It has never been at auction before, and has been guaranteed with an estimate of £700,000 to £900,000. Since the artist has been represented by the Gagosian gallery, three of his paintings have sold for more than £1 million, so the price, if not for bargain hunters, is reasonable.

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