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Friday, 11 February 2011 02:05

An Iowa lawmaker today offered a creative solution to funding scholarship for art students at the University of Iowa: sell the school's Jackson Pollock masterpiece, which is worth about $140 million.

Rep. Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said proceeds from the sale of Pollock's 1943 Mural would go into an endowment that could provide $5 million a year for state residents majoring in art at UI, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reports. If annual interest topped $5 million, it would fund financial aid for other liberal arts majors.

Thursday, 10 February 2011 02:49

But Egyptian minister of antiquities denies reports of large-scale looting and damage

Work has started on the restoration of objects damaged by looters at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, according to Zahi Hawass, the Egyptian minister of antiquities.

Hawass, writing on his website on 8 February, said that up to 25 of the 70 objects broken at the museum are now being restored. Among the objects damaged when looters entered the museum on 28 January was a small statue of Akhenaten, which was the first object to be cleaned and restored.

Thursday, 10 February 2011 02:46

News of a museum's major art acquisition isn't usually accompanied by the question, "Why?" So it's interesting to see it crop up in reports that a huge cache of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs, plus his archives and youthful mixed-media art, has been jointly acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Trust.

The specific gist of the puzzlement seems to be: Why Los Angeles?

Mapplethorpe was born in Floral Park, Queens, and spent his entire working life in New York (he died there at 42 in 1989). Although the only time I met him was at a dinner party in Pasadena, he didn't have much connection with Southern California.

Yet, since when is an artist's studio zip-code a ruling criterion for art museums with encyclopedic collections such as LACMA and the Getty? The puzzlement recalls an infamous column written by a New York critic 20 years ago when the Getty bought James Ensor's magnificent "Christ's Entry Into Brussels in 1889," claiming the signal Expressionist masterpiece really "belonged in Europe." Apparently the critic hadn't spent much time at his local Metropolitan and Museum of Modern Art.

Thursday, 10 February 2011 02:43

A Pablo Picasso painting of his mistress last night sold for 25.2 million pounds ($40.5 million) as highly valued artworks attracted selective bidding.

“La Lecture” was estimated to make 12 million pounds to 18 million pounds at Sotheby’s in London. Ten of the 42 Impressionist and modern lots failed to sell, including a bronze by Alberto Giacometti.

“The auction did all right, not great,’’ the London-based dealer Alan Hobart of the Pyms Gallery said in an interview. “The auction houses are struggling to find the goods. Rich collectors are hanging on to their art. Once prices are driven up, the market becomes more discriminating.”

Classic works by modern artists with reputations such as Picasso are attracting investment-conscious new buyers from the emerging economies of Russia, Asia and the Middle East, said dealers. Choosy bidders held back on other lots, in contrast with the equivalent event last year, which raised twice as much, boosted by the record 65 million pounds for another Giacometti bronze.

Thursday, 10 February 2011 02:39

Texans’ claims that they know how to manage a state budget much better than we Californians may be crumbling, but they do retain bragging rights on one impressive count: starting May 22, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston will offer its visitors an in-person encounter with two of Titian’s greatest masterpieces in a touring show that won’t make it to the West Coast.

"Diana and Actaeon" (pictured above) and "Diana and Callisto," painted in the late 1550s and normally lodged in Edinburgh, Scotland, are making their first U.S. appearances, and Houston is as close as they’ll get to Southern California.

“Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland” first alighted at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in October; the show, whose 13 paintings and 12 drawings also include works by Tintoretto, Lorenzo Lotto and Jacopo Bassano, opened last weekend at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, with Houston the next and last stop.

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:47

The largest collection of Paul Cezanne's Card Player paintings to ever be exhibited together opens on Wednesday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It includes three of five of the French master's famous series depicting peasants of the Aix-en-Provence region in a monumental light rarely used to portray the working classes at the end of the 19th-century.

Gary Tinterow, chairman of the museum's department of 19th-century, modern and contemporary Art, described it as a landmark exhibition, the first devoted to the subject.

"Created in the 1890s while the artist was living at his family's estate outside Aix-en-Provence, these images capture the character Cezanne admired in the people of the region," Tinterow said.

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:44

A 1932 painting by Picasso estimated to fetch up to $29 million at auction Tuesday, and a Gauguin likely to go for as much as $16 million Wednesday point to a robust market for modern art, say experts.

Pablo Picasso's "La Lecture," is likely to sell for between £12 million ($19 million) and £18 million ($29 million) at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening sale in London. This high estimate shows a healthy appetite for modern and Impressionist art, according to the auction house.

It's a trend echoed at rival auction house, Christie's, where "Still Life With Hope," a 1901 painting by Paul Gauguin referencing friend and fellow painter Vincent van Gogh, is going under the hammer Wednesday for between £7 million ($11 million) and £10 million ($16 million).

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:40

Maria Altmann, who escaped Nazi-occupied Vienna as a newlywed and returned to wage a triumphant fight to recover Gustav Klimt's iconic gold portrait of her remarkable aunt, has died. She was 94.

Altmann died Monday at her Cheviot Hills home after a long illness, said family friend E. Randol Schoenberg.

Altmann was an 82-year-old grandmother living in Cheviot Hills in 1998 when she enlisted Schoenberg, an attorney who was the son of a friend, to investigate the Nazi theft of her Jewish family's Klimt collection. The collection included Klimt's famous "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer," hanging in the Austrian National Gallery.

The seemingly unwinnable battle took Altmann and Schoenberg to the U.S. Supreme Court — which ruled that the case could go forward. An Austrian mediation panel ultimately awarded Altmann and four other heirs the five Klimt paintings in January 2006.

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 00:36

Last week, Google unveiled a Street View-esque project that brings viewers face to face with some of the greatest art on earth.

Known as Google Art Project, the initiative will give users remote access to the priceless paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts from 17 of the world's most famous museums, including New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, London's National Gallery and Tate Britain, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and others.

In a blog post announcing the effort, Amit Sood, head of the Google Art Project, explained that users will have initial access to at least 1,000 works from the 17 museums, including one from each institution that will be presented in high-resolution using "'gigapixel' photo-capturing technology."

The project is based, in part, Sood said, on Google's Street View technology.

But Google didn't do this project on its own. Rather, it partnered with a company called Schematic, which helped integrate many of the technologies that together form Google Art Project, and which took on a lot of the heavy lifting in dealing with the various museums. Yesterday, Jason Brush, the executive vice president for user experience at Schematic, sat down for a 45 Minutes on IM interview about the effort, and talked about working with some of the greatest art collections ever put together, about collaborating with Googlers trying to do exciting things with their "20 percent" time, and about the challenges of building a powerful experience around what could be some people's first-ever interaction with some of the most important paintings in history.

Wednesday, 02 February 2011 01:25

NEW YORK CITY – We did not need the Dow to hit 12,000 on January 26 tell us that the market for art and antiques has more bounce in its step of late. The anecdotal accounts of more than 440 dealers who participated in five shows scattered around New York City between January 18 and 30 suggest that collectors are spending again, even as buyers and sellers grapple with the realignment in prices that has slowed trading in the past two years.
Winter Show Flexes Marketing Muscle
Beyond the economy’s ups and downs, it is clear that the business of selling art is changing. Few places is this more evident than at the January 20-30 Winter Antiques Show, where chairman Arie L. Kopelman and executive director Catherine Sweeney Singer have drawn on their deep expertise in luxury goods marketing to boost the fair’s fortunes. 
The show’s management has made an art form of corporate sponsorships, an essential component of any major fair. At the Winter Show, underwriting supports everything from the Opening Night Party to the loan exhibition.  An unprecedented number of special events, 35 in all this year, added to the mix.  Even with snow-related cancellations most were booked to capacity.
Fair organizers have also focused on branding. “As recently as five years ago, our marketing materials were designed by a dozen different entities. We needed consistency,” says Sweeney Singer. But do not mistake the luscious aquamarine that colored everything from tickets to the show banners that stretched for blocks along Park Avenue for Tiffany Blue. It is Nathaniel Russell Green, taken from a paint chip chosen by Historic Charleston Foundation.
In its scale and complexity, “Grandeur Preserved: Masterworks Presented by Historic Charleston Foundation,” which mingled loans from five museums and six private collections, was another milestone for the Winter Antiques Show, which attracted Charlestonians by the dozens on opening night. Prime time for people watching, the preview also drew Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Hugh Jackman, and nearly everyone social in New York.

Finally, 2011 is the year that Americana Week went fully digital. Winter Antiques Show organizers redeployed their marketing budget to include more online advertising and a beefier website, one that allows collectors to sample the inventory of its 75 exhibitors without ever leaving home. The marketing paid off:  attendance was up 12 percent on opening night alone and perhaps as much as 15 percent for the run of the fair.

Show highlights ranged from John Singleton Copley’s chalk on paper study for “Watson and the Shark,” $1.5 million at Adelson Galleries, to Morris Hirshfield’s 1942 folk-art classic “American Beauty,” $750,000 at GiampietroGerald Peters Gallery devoted a wall to five ethereal Thomas Wilmer Dewing paintings and drawings.  In a Stanford White frame, the most costly, “Petunias,” was $1.8 million.
Opening night saw the sale of two Yup’ik Eskimo masks, one of which had never been exhibited or published, from the estate of the Surrealist artist Enrico Donati (1909-2008). Priced in excess of $4 million, they sold in the stand of Donald Ellis, a Canadian specialist in tribal art. Both were collected by Adam Hollis Twitchell in Alaska in 1905. It has been nearly 30 years since a Yup’ik mask from the dozen seminal examples collected by Twitchell came on the market.
Alexander Gallery sold eight paintings by the end of show’s first day, one of them an Albert Bierstadt view of icebergs. There were reported sales of two MacIntosh chairs at the Fine Arts Society and three pairs of armour at Peter Finer.  Japanese arts specialist Joan Mirviss’s sales surpassed 30 in every medium. Olde Hope Antiques parted with a fireman weathervane, $285,000, from the Barenholtz collection.
“We’ve had a great show and I think others have as well,” said Carol Huber. The Old Lyme, Ct., specialist in American needlework made major sales of an 1828 Chester County, Pa., sampler and a Boston needlework picture of 1768.
Uptown Polish, Downtown Vibe at American Show
The best Americana is increasingly hard to find, as exhibitors at this 40-dealer show will tell you. The American Antiques Show (TAAS), now in its tenth year, makes finding the great stuff look easy. Presented as a benefit for the American Folk Art Museum in New York, TAAS offers a refreshingly youthful take on collecting.  It’s fun and festive with a downtown vibe, providing plenty to inspire new collectors and tempt seasoned ones.
The January 19 preview party at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street drew an A-list crowd that included Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Bunny Williams, John Rosselli, Martha Stewart, Arie and Coco Kopelman, and Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi.
“Sales were surprisingly good,” said manager Karen DiSaia. As always, there seemed to be no shortage of customers for bold sculpture that transcended the folk-art genre. Furniture sold well, too.
“We are seeing green shoots. Also, prices have come down enough to allow new people to get on the train,” said Allan Katz, a specialist in American folk sculpture. His many sales included a skillfully carved mid-nineteenth century countertop tobacco figure, priced $110,000. Its exotic features and dress echo fanciful renderings of natives found on early maps of the New World.
An oversized hat trade sign and an 1856 fireman’s parade hat were among early sales at Garthoeffner Gallery of Lititz, Pa.
With the museum’s dazzling quilt collection currently on view in its galleries uptown, textiles of all sorts enjoyed a revival. Boston dealer Stephen Score sold his exuberantly patriotic American flag quilt, made around 1880. Merrimacport, Ma., dealer Colette Donovan  wrote up an 1840 broderie perse wedding quilt with hand-painted blocks by George Winter, a painter of Native American portraits and landscapes.
“We bring everything we’ve got to a show like this,” said Philadelphia dealer Amy Finkel, who sold 27 samplers and silk embroideries, including two rare samplers from the state of Virginia, honored by the show this year.
“We have never had so much serious interest,” said Newbury, Ma., dealer Joan Brownstein, who sold an Isaac Sheffield portrait of a sea captain with the ship Wilmington and an American flag in the background. Brownstein had promising nibbles on Ammi Phillips’s austerely geometric “Portrait of Ann Miller Tompkins.”
Her partner, Peter Eaton, enjoyed brisk sales of early New England furniture in original surface. His catalogue piece, a rare Rhode Island William and Mary high chest sold before the show opened. Sales of a New Hampshire Queen Anne chest-on-frame in old Spanish brown paint, a coastal Massachusetts serpentine-top candlestand, and a pair of spectacular Chippendale andirons with flame finials followed.
“This is my only show. Collectors know that I save things for it,” said Gary Sullivan, a specialist in clocks and  formal American furniture. On opening night, the Sharon, Ma., dealer sold a circa 1825 dwarf clock, priced $185,000, with works by  Joshua Wilder and case by Abiel White.  He closed the show with the sale of a New Jersey tall clock with works by Aaron Lane and a labeled case by Matthew Egerton.
“It’s a great piece of Americana,” Southampton, Ma., silver specialist Mark McHugh said of a monumental New York City presentation vase of 1838. Embellished with an American shied and the arms of New York, it was one of Spencer Mark’s many sales.
The Ceramics Fair’s Win-Win
The New York Ceramics Fair’s move from the National Academy of Design on Fifth Avenue to Bohemian National Hall at the Czech Consulate on East 73rd Street was a win-win for everyone. Set-up logistics were easier for the California-based show promoters Caskey-Lees and attendance was even with a year ago. Look for the gate to grow as shoppers discover that Sotheby’s is just two blocks away and the Winter Antiques Show, at 67th Street, is not much farther.
With only 28 exhibitors, this little show has a big hold on collectors. Linda Kaufman, Lulu Wang, Al and Bridget Ritter, Luke and Peggy Beckerdite, Deanne Levison, Milly McGehee, Stiles Colwill and Bennett Weinstock were among the many guests who crowded into booths chock-a-block full of pottery, porcelain,and glass on opening night, January 18.
The Ceramic Fair covers a lot of ground. Take London specialist Christopher Sheppard, who sold a 12th-century glass window to the Corning Museum of Glass. His inventory ranges from ancient Roman to 1920s Venetian glass.
English pottery and Chinese porcelain remain the major draws at this established event but contemporary ceramics are increasingly providing novelty and edge. Look for the New York Ceramics Fair to return to Bohemian National Hall next January.
Stella Adds More to the Mix
Adding to the mix is Stella Shows, which brings 300 exhibitors – more than the other three fairs combined – to New York for its Antiques at the Armory and Americana & Antiques at The Pier Shows between January 21 and 23.
“Because of bad weather, the gate was slightly down but the decrease was not reflected in dealers’ sales,” said company head Irene Stella. Always an innovator, Stella added the very successful Book Alley, featuring 25 antiquarian book dealers, to her Pier show.
Stella plans to amp up the company’s digital and social media marketing initiatives with more video promotions such as the clip that now appears on the site.
“We did the first video as a trial and found that dealers sold from it,” Stella explained.

Thursday, 27 January 2011 04:17

A tiny piece of ancient China is going on show in Wales for the first time.

Buddhas and other carvings sculpted in rock at Dazu - now a world heritage site in the south west of China - are being exhibited at the National Museum Cardiff.

It is the first time that the sandstone carvings, some dating back to the 7th Century, have travelled outside their homeland.

Chinese authorities say they are "honoured" to take the carvings to Wales on the first stop of what promises to be a planned world tour.

The museum describes acquiring the 10-week exhibition as a "coup" which will hopefully help increase its profile on the international stage.

Thursday, 27 January 2011 04:14

Giving little notice and surprising its board co-chairs, Richard P. Townsend has stepped down as president of the Museum of Latin American Art after less than two years in its top spot, the museum announced Tuesday.

It's the third change at the top for the Long Beach museum in little more than 3 1/2 years since completing a $15-million expansion and renovation in 2007. "It caught us a little bit by surprise" when Townsend said he was resigning about a week and a half ago, said co-chair Mike Deovlet. "It isn't anything we'd had discussions about."

"He met with us and said he wanted to pursue other opportunities," said Burke Gumbiner, the other co-chair. "It was voluntary. We thanked him for his contribution. We like the artistic program and are going to continue the artistic program."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 04:26

Self-portraits by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat will star in contemporary-art auctions in London set to raise at least 72.5 million pounds ($116 million).

A pair of Jeff Koons bear sculptures, a Gerhard Richter abstract and a pile of Ai Weiwei porcelain flower seeds are also among lots in the evening mixed-owner sales starting Feb. 15. The total minimum estimates are 14 percent higher than in 2010.

Sotheby’s, Christie’s International and Phillips de Pury & Co.’s sales come as contemporary-art dealers look for price rises. Worldwide auctions slumped more than 50 percent in 2009. The once-booming market is still recovering, according to the French-based data company Artprice.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 04:24

Next week's Old Masters sale in New York includes a Titian, a Rubens, and an unusual portrait of a man with a Hebrew tablet proclaiming the Torah.  Here are some highlights to tickle your checkbook:

Until brief appearances this fall on a Sotheby's shopping tour, Titian's Sacra Conversazione, offered by a private collector, hadn't been publicly seen since 1978 and not seen in the U.S. since 1957 -- ironically, at the Cleveland Museum, which is dumping 32 Old Masters at this very sale.

Titian could do it all -- portraits, altarpieces, mythologies -- and his art was so highly valued in his lifetime that he kept kings waiting for his work.  But be forewarned:  He had a big workshop, and his hand here may be confined to the Madonna and Child.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 04:20

A German foundation rejected Monday an Egyptian request to return the 3,400-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, a sculpture which draws over one million viewers annually to a Berlin museum.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) sent the request to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which runs the Neues Museum in the German capital where the bust is kept.

"The foundation's position on the return of Nefertiti remains unchanged," foundation president Professor Hermann Parzinger said in a statement. "She is and remains the ambassador of Egypt in Berlin."

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 04:18

The VIP Art Fair, the first major online art fair featuring work from blue-chip galleries that opened on Saturday, intended to tap into one of the Internet’s big strengths: its huge audience. Along the way, the fair has also encountered something else the Internet does very well: snarky reviews.

“Art-Market ‘Ishtar’?” asked ARTINFO on Sunday before listing technical problems plaguing the site’s launch that included an overloaded server and sluggish response times. The site drew analogies to the Titanic, the Hindenburg, and the much-delayed Broadway musical, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” Another blog, Art Fag City, declared on Monday: “What We Want From An Online Marketplace: VIP Art Fair Falls Short.”

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 04:02

(New York, NY – January 18, 2011) – Keno Auctions’ sale, which took place on January 18th in Wallace Hall at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola on Park Avenue, achieved $2,600,000 in sales, well within its pre-sale estimate ($1.8 – 3.2 million)* with just over 85% of the lots finding buyers, one setting a world sales record for a Veneered William and Mary High Chest of Drawers.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 02:45

NEW YORK CITY – One tipped his pen. The other tilted his chin. With economy of gesture, antiques dealers Todd Prickett and G.W. Samaha faced off for some of the finest American furniture offered during New York’s Americana Week auctions during the third week of January. Competition for the best of the best has not been so heated since the 1920s, when proxies for Henry duPont, Francis Garvan, and Henry Ford waged another such battle of the paddles.
The sparring began at Christie’s on January 21, where 223 lots grossed $12.8 million. The total, more than double low estimate, is the Rockefeller Plaza auction house’s best result in the category since 2007.
Christie’s attributed an iconic Newport form, a mahogany bureau table with a blocked façade and three carved shells (see image), to master craftsman John Goddard. Made around 1765 for his daughter, Catherine Goddard, the bureau table descended in the family before Newport antiques dealer George E. Vernon acquired it and sold it to the Nicholas Browns of Providence.  The bureau table last came up at Sotheby’s in 2005, selling to a collector for $940,000. Underbid by Samaha, it resold this January to C.L. Prickett Antiques of Yardley, Pa., for $5,682,500, a record for the form.
Prickett and Samaha competed again when a delicately inlaid Pembroke table attributed to William Whitehead of New York crossed the block.  Auctioned as the part of the Nicholson collection in 1995, it resold to Pricket for $194,500. A Federal side chair with crisp carvings attributed to carver Samuel McIntire of Salem, Massachusetts (see image), sold to Prickett for $662,500. The shield-back example is from a set of eight chairs made for Elias Hasket Derby (America’s first millionaire) and his wife, Elizabeth Crowninshield Derby of Salem.  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, owns four chairs from the set. A fifth is at Winterthur.  Also selling to Prickett, for $182,500, was a Pennsylvania spice cabinet with an elaborate bonnet top.
Samaha acquired a joined, carved and painted oak Connecticut “Sunflower” chest of 1675-1710 for $482,500 and a tall clock with English works and carving attributed to James Reynolds of Philadelphia for $290,500. A second carved and painted Massachusetts “Hadley” chest of circa 1700 went to Connecticut collector William Mayer, also for $482,500. Both pieces were part of the WEA Enterprises Corporate Collection formed by Eric Martin Wunsch, as was the Salem side chair.
Altogether, it was a good day for the trade. Conservator Alan Miller won a Philadelphia William and Mary cedar dressing table for $482,500. Philadelphia dealer Elle Shushan bought a rare miniature portrait on copper of Samuel Barrett by John Singleton Copley for $386,500. Delaware dealer James Kilvington purchased a set of six Philadelphia Chippendale side chairs for $170,500.
On January 20, Important American Silver at Christie’s added another $2.7 million, bringing Christie’s two-day total to nearly $15.5 million. The session’s cover lots, a mixed metal gourd-form tray and a mixed metal centerpiece, both designed by Edward C. Moore for Tiffany between 1878 and 1880, sold to an agent bidding for one client for a combined $425,000.
At Sotheby’s on January 21 and 22, sales of Important Americana Including Stoneware Assembled by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Hochberg reached nearly $8 million. A serpentine-front cherrywood chest of drawers that descended in the Searls family of Connecticut (see image) sailed past estimate to sell to G.W. Samaha for $872,500 with dealers Todd Prickett and Peter Sawyer in the hunt. The chest has the quirky stylistic details and inlays that connoisseurs associate with rural Massachusetts cabinetmaker Nathan Lombard.
Tiffany silver had its shining moments at both houses.  At Sotheby’s, the Ptarmigan Vase (see image) a monumental copper, silver, and gold mokune vessel measuring 25 inches high and dating to around 1900, fetched $662,500 from a Canadian dealer bidding on behalf of a Canadian museum.  The vase descended in the family of Tiffany designer Paulding Farnham, an investor in the Ptarmigan mines in British Colombia. Five signatures discovered on the vase’s base link this exceptional work to master craftsmen who worked for Tiffany.
An enameled gold Order of the Cincinnati made for General Nathanael Greene from a design by Major Pierre L’Enfant by Duval & Francastel of Paris in 1784 sold near low estimate, for $242,500. Greene, a Rhode Island native, played an important role in George Washington’s surprise attack on Trenton in 1776.
Purchased by a collector for $290,500, Ammi Phillips’ “Portrait of a Rosy Cheeked Girl in a Pink Dress” found a new home in Canada.
A brilliantly stitched Boston canvaswork picture of a shepherdess and piper sold for $122,500; it was underbid by needlework specialist Carol Huber from her booth at the Winter Antiques Show. It is one of the earliest schoolgirl embroideries of its kind. 
Buyers snubbed Sotheby’s single owner sale of Important Americana from a Private Collection. Heavily bought in, the sale totaled $944,945 but made only 38% of estimate. Sotheby’s will likely negotiate privately on some of the pieces in this collection. New York dealer Leigh Keno offered to buy a star lot, a Boston Queen Anne veneered dressing table with a trompe l’oeil painted shell, for a client for $110,000 the moment that the gavel dropped.
Sotheby’s concluded with the Hascoe Family Collection on January 23, adding another $5.4 million to its coffers and bringing the house’s three-day total to $14.4 million. A pair of silver wine cups (see image) made by Paul Revere, Jr., of  Boston in 1792 brought $752,500. Moses Michael Hays, who founded The Massachusetts Bank in 1784, commissioned the cups.  The Hascoes’ collection of Czech art will be auctioned in London.
Copley Fine Art Auctions
Copley Fine Arts kicked off the Americana Week action on Monday, January 17, with a sale at Wallace Hall on Park Avenue. This was the first New York outing for the Boston-based specialist in sporting art and decoys.
“We will be back here next year,” said company chairman Stephen O’Brien, Jr., who grossed $1.6 million including premium on 430 lots, surpassing his low estimate.
Buyers flocked to blue-chip carvings by Cape Cod master A. Elmer Crowell. A pair of goldeneye decoys from a rig ordered by John Ware Willard, a descendant of clockmaker Simon Willard, made $109,250. A circa 1915 Hudsonian curlew with Crowell’s oval brand fetched $74,740. A golden plover mantle carving of about 1915 garnered $48,875 and a running black-bellied plover of about 1910 crossed the block at $37,375.
Topping sales was a hollow, feeding stick-up Canada goose decoy made around 1917 by John Tax of Minnesota (see image). It sold to a phone bidder for $115,000.
Other decoy highlights included a mallard drake by Joseph W. Lincoln of Accord, Mass., $86,250; and a circa 1890 canvasback drake made by Lee Dudley of Knott’s Island, N.C. It sold to a Tennessee collector for $80,500.
“I was disappointed that our cover lot, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s oil on canvas painting ‘Guarding the Catch’ of 1850, was bought in but we think we have it sold privately,” said O’Brien, who was nearing agreement with a private buyer one day after the auction. Paintings by highly regarded sporting artists Benson, Sloane, Ripley, Pleissner, Rousseau, and Foster also failed to meet reserve.
Keno Auctions
Dealer turned auctioneer Leigh Keno hosted his first New York sale this January 18 at Wallace Hall, in space that he shared with Copley Fine Arts.  Keno’s eclectic selection of American fine and decorative arts came in mid- estimate, achieving $2.6 million including premium on nearly 400 lots.
A rare William and Mary high chest of drawers with boldly figured maple and walnut veneers (see image) drew interest from curators and collectors. Made in Boston between 1705 and 1725, the casepiece, which closely resembles examples at Winterthur and Bayou Bend museums, surfaced fifteen years ago in Hawaii. Connecticut dealer Eileen Smiles underbid the lot that is on its way to a private collection for $317,200.
Looking to expand its stake in the fine arts, Keno Auctions featured Winslow Homer’s “Five Boys at the Shore, Gloucester.” The Massachusetts shore scene descended in the family of Mrs. Henry Lee, who purchased the charming watercolor on paper in 1880 for $50 from the Doll and Richards Gallery in Boston. The work resold for $414,800.
A house call in Maine yielded an early sketchbook by the late artist Andrew Wyeth. Son Jamie and wife Betsy Wyeth previewed the drawings at Wallace Hall. A portrait of Betsy dating to 1940 sold for $7,320. What is perhaps Wyeth’s earliest rendering of the Olson farm, immortalized in “Christina’s World,” made $41,480. What could be a preliminary drawing for “The Coot Hunter” of 1941 fetched $20,740. Altogether, the twelve drawings garnered $137,128.
Christie’s continued on Monday, January 24, with Syd Levethan’s Longridge Collection of early English pottery and on Tuesday, January 25, with Chinese export porcelain. Christie’s sale of Native American Art grossed $1.1 million on January 18.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 04:27

New York – An 18th century mahogany bureau table carved by Newport’s most celebrated cabinetmaker sold for a stunning $5.7 million at Christie’s New York on Wednesday morning, placing it among the highest auction prices ever realized for an item of American furniture. Offered at $700,000-900,000, the table was pursued by multiple bidders, who rapidly drove the price to the $3 million dollar threshold. From there on two dedicated bidders in the saleroom battled back and forth for the handsomely carved table before a hushed audience of clients and onlookers, until auctioneer John Hays dropped the gavel at $5 million. With premium, the final price realized was $5,682,500.

The table, known as the Catherine Goddard Chippendale Block-and-Shell Carved and Figured Mahogany Bureau Table, is attributed to the Newport, Rhode Island cabinetmaker John Goddard (1724-1785). Masterfully designed and crafted, the table is an outstanding example of the celebrated Newport style of block-and-shell carving. Goddard was widely recognized as one of early America’s most talented cabinet-makers and his creations were sought-after by the port city’s most well-to-do merchants.

A handwritten label in the top drawer of the table indicates that Goddard made the knee-hole bureau circa 1765 expressly for his daughter, Catherine Goddard, and may have given it to her as a wedding present. The table remained within his daughter’s family through several generations of descendants until it was sold by the cabinetmaker’s great-great granddaughter Mary Briggs (Weaver) Case in the early 1900s. The table last sold at auction in January 2005 for $940,000.

“This desk bears all the unique characteristics and quality of construction that make Newport furniture of this era so highly prized among collectors. The quality of the mahogany in particular is stunning in this piece and shows that Goddard had his pick of the wood coming into the port during that era,” said Hays, deputy chairman of Christie’s Americas and lead specialist in American Furniture. “We are honored to have established such a strong price today for this table, which represents a new world auction record for the knee-hole desk form.”

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 04:14

Red-dot stickers indicating a sale popped up minutes after the doors opened at 5 p.m. Thursday night for the Winter Antiques Show’s party at the Park Avenue Armory in New York.

At 5:10, Robert Young Antiques sold a nightstand for $8,750.

By 6:42, Native American art dealer Donald Ellis had sold two masks: one for $2.1 million, another for $2.5 million.