In last month’s newsletter I promised to finish up my summary of the New York sales and since the London sales followed close behind, I decided to include them as well:
The heat continues … at the end of May the interest turned to American paintings and the sale room results did not disappoint the market, though in my personal opinion, some of the paintings were a bit disappointing.
Among the many highlights were Andrew Wyeth’s Battle Ensign which made an auction record $3.82 million; Robert Henri’s Jessica Penn in Black & White Plumes sold for $3.6 million; Frank Benson’s The Artist’s Daughters made $3.37 million; Martin J. Heade’s Sunny Day on the Marsh also brought an auction record $2.76 million; Julius L. Stewart’s Yachting in the Mediterranean fetched $2.31 million; Sanford R. Gifford’s Fire Island Beach made $2.14 million; W.L. Metcalf’s The Red Oak (No.2) made $1.58 million; Edward Redfield’s Brooklyn Bridge at Night made a record $966,000 and Eastman Johnson’s The Little Soldier, which sold for $230,000 in December of 2003, made an impressive $856,000 … not a bad return in less than 2 years!
There were not many disappointments in terms of the works that failed to sell … of the 408 works offered, 341 found new homes (84%). Which for an auction is rather good, but what I found rather disappointing was the lack of consistently strong material … and many of these more minor works, attracted strong bidding. Here are a couple of examples: J.H. Sharp’s Teepee Reflection, a nice small (8 x 6 inch) study painted on a cigar box lid and estimated for $25 - $35,000 brought $60,000; an 8 x 11 inch oil sketch by Frank T. Johnson titled The Cattlemen ($10-$15,000 estimate) made $42,000; and Albert Bierstadt’s 6 x 9 inch Sunset over the River ($50-$70,000 estimate) brought $251,000. Among the really big disappointments were John F. Kensett’s Eagle Rock, Manchester ($700 - $1 million); Mary Cassatt’s Simone in Blue Plumed Hat ($1 - $1.5 million) and The Mauve Dressing Gown ($2 - $3 million) along with Georgia O’Keeffe’s Petunia and Coleus ($3.5 - $4.5 million) which all failed to sell.
By the time the two sales were completed, over $80 million worth of American art traded hands at the sales … not a bad week for the Americans.
Impressionists & Moderns in London
The few good works that made their way to the evening sales seemed to have faired rather nicely; Kees van Dongen’s Femme au grand chapeau (1906) brought an auction record $9.217 million; Maurice de Vlaminck’s Le Jardinier (1904) made $8.8 million, while his Peniche sur la Seine made $5.71 million. Paul Signac’s Les Andelys, les laveuses (1886) brought an auction record $6.66 million; Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait de Jeanne Hébuterne brought $5.9 million; Henri Matisse’s Nature Morte, Fleurs et Tasse brought just over $4.94 million; Van Gogh’s rather unattractive Une Liseuse de Romans made $4.29 million … but almost anything by Van Gogh will find a buyer. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s In der Dammerung made $4.49 million (another auction record); a 9 ½ x 13 inch Picasso still life made $1.44 million (for our price per square inch fans, that is about $11,650 per square inch) and Eugene Boudin’s 6 x 9 ½ inch Sur la Plage brought $259,000 … or $4,543.85 per square inch.
As usual, there were a number of casualties; about 25% of the works offered failed to find buyers... including works by Monet, Chagall, Kandinsky and Renoir. But in the end, over $185 million worth of Impressionist and Modern art changed hands. Not as good as the New York results, but not bad for a week’s work!
The Contemporaries in London
The last full week in June saw another round of sales in the Contemporary market and as we saw in New York, many of the ‘New Chip’ and ‘Blue Chip’ artists faired pretty well.
Among the many highlights were Francis Bacon’s Portrait of George Dyer Staring Into a Mirror (1967) brought an auction record £4.936 million (about $8.98 million); Lucian Freud’s Man with Feather (1843) which sold for just over £3.7 million (about $6.8 million); while his Bella sold for £1.8 million (about $3.3 million); David Hockney’s Seated Woman Being Served Tea by Standing Companion (1963) that made £1.8 million (about $3.3 million) … this same work sold in New York in 1984 where it fetched $200,000 and was originally sold by the Kasmin Gallery, London, in 1963 for £300 (about $840.00). Cy Twombly’s Epitaph (1960) made £904,000 (about $1.65 million) ... this work last appeared on the London market in 1998 where it brought £331,500 ($552,000). And Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1987), bought by a New York dealer, for £747,200 (about $1.36 million) … this work was last seen on the market in 1999 when it was sold for $552,500.
In the end, almost £59 million (about $108 million) worth of art sold in just three days. Not a bad haul!
Assorted Results & Other Interesting News
During the past month or so a number of interesting items found their way to the auction block and some brought quite astounding prices. In the furniture arena a very interesting and rare piece by Carlo Mollino, a table made in 1949, sold for a record smashing $3.824 million – against a $150,000 - $200,000 estimate. From an earlier century, The Kedleston Bookcase (George II Mahogany Breakfront Secretarie-bookcase) made $2.67 million and a Benjamin Marshall Chippendale high chest (c.1755-1765) sold in New York for $1.8 million. In the Antiquities world, a rare Anatolian marble idol made a world auction record of $1.8 million. In the world of musical instruments, a 1699 Stradivarius violin, which today is known as The Lady Tennant, made a world record price of $2.032 million.
Moving to the Sports Memorabilia arena here were a few interesting highlights … The 1919 contract selling Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees sold for $996,000. On top of that, Babe Ruth’s 1915 rookie card sold for $120,000 and his signed 1920 game bat, used during his first season with the Yankees, brought $216,000.
Another record was seen for an Edward Burdett (1805-1833) scrimshawed sperm whale’s tooth when it made $182,250.
And let us not forget a favorite of the ladies … Jewelry. An Asscher and regular-cut fancy vivid yellow diamond pendant necklace consisting of 42.41 carats made $2.62 million; while a 3.10 carat oval-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond ring brought $1.814 million. And if you wanted a little size for the money … a 120.20 carat pear-shaped faint brown diamond also brought $1.814 million. Guess the old adage is true … quality before quantity.
Finally, here is an interesting recovery … in April, Paris police found a stolen Picasso painting, worth an estimated $3.2 million, hidden behind an armoire at the home of a known drug trafficker; he claimed that it was given to him by a friend for safe keeping … also in the drug business. The work was taken almost one year earlier from the Pompidou Center in Paris.
A Little Gallery PR
The gallery was recently contacted by Eric Rhoads, the Chairman and Publisher of Plein Air Magazine. Eric had seen copies of our newsletter and thought that some of the topics would interest his magazines readers and asked if we would allow them to publish a few. The other day we received our copy of the July 2005 issue and to our surprise they published one: Storing Paintings Properly – What to Do When You Run out Of Wall Space (Volume 28 of our newsletter).
Allan Banks Update
We are pleased to announce that Allan has finished and delivered his portrait commission of Dr. John Harrington, retiring Dean of Tufts University Medical Center. Allan has also been commissioned to paint a portrait of the Dean at Miami University. As many of you know, Allan specializes in figurative works done in the classical realist style. Some of his new works are currently featured on our web site. If you would like to commission a portrait from Allan, please contact the gallery for more details.
Gallery Updates: Gallery hours for the month of July are Monday through Thursday 10am – 5:30pm; all other times by appointment.
New works by Louis Aston Knight, Johann Hamza, Federico Andreotti, Antoine Blanchard, Edouard Leon Cortès, Gregory Harris, Heidi Coutu and Allan Banks have been added to our web site this month. We have also begun, with the help of Lynsi Spaulding (a graduate student at the University of Minnesota), our summer biography upgrade. Currently, new or upgraded biographies for Maurice de Vlaminck, Leon L’hermitte, Fritz Zuber-Buhler, and Paul Blondeau have been added. We also posted new photographs of Constant Troyon and Jean B.C. Corot to their respective biographies.
Among the many paintings that found new homes since our last newsletter were works by George Armfield; Paul J. Clays; Alfred A. Glendening; Paul Charles Chocarne-Moreau; Emile Munier; Fritz Zuber-Buhler; Julien Dupré; Antoine Blanchard; six by Edouard Cortes; two by Louis Aston Knight; Guy Wiggins; Marcel Dyf; two by John Kuhn; a few by Gregory Harris; and a number by Sally Swatland.
Virtual Exhibitions: We have created a nice exhibit for the works of Gregory Frank Harris. For those of you who enjoy his work, I am sure you will love the exhibit.