Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June Tribal auctions in Paris

The sales are over and now all we can say honestly is that it was a mixed bag. Clearly the material at Christies, Paris was inferior to the two small sales offered by Sothebys. However, Christies did not fair well with their modest offerings seeing 125 out of 322 lots failing to sell with a 39% buy in and gross sales of only 1,017,787 euros.. Not good by any standards... especially when some of the stars are included in the passed column. The major Maori figure which was also featured on the cover and ex Mert Simpson failed to break the estimate of 150,000 to 200,000 euros. The Luba bowstand that was not remotely in a league with examples considered for the Petrides exhibition failed with an estimate of 60,000 to 90,000 euros. In Lot 76 the well published Ishan door that actually was collected by Bob Armstrong in the 1960's also failed to sell. Sothebys began today with the Philippe Guimiot and Domitilla de Grunne collection offering 65 lots, 23 objects failing to sell and a gross of 2,407,400 euros. In lot 15 a very cool Fanti doll that must be considered one of the finest examples known sold for 55,950 euros ....undoubtedly a record for one of these. William Fagg visited us from the past when his determination that the fragmentary Yoruba housepost in lot 24 was carved in the mid 19th century making it one of the earliest examples known. Some might argue that 29,550 euros was modest for such an important and imposing (ht. 106 cm.) object. Sothebys' star for this sale was the powerful elegant Chokwe pwo mask featured in lot 53 and selling for 420,750 euros. The big disappointments started with lot 19, the major Urhobo figure that was estimated to sell between 300,000 and 500,000 euros, which considering its fragmentary condition was very optimistic. In lot 26 a major but heavily eroded Bamileke figure was offered at 500,000 to 800,000 euros. The fact that it was owned by Jacob Epstein apparently was not enough. A Maori canoe prow head collected by General Horatio Robley in 1864 in New Zealand failed to sell at the low estimate of 250,000 euros. Many thought this head pre-dated 1840. The Sothebys afternoon sale failed to sell 22 out of 66 lots for a total gross of 3,601,500 euros. The very unusual Kwele figure offered in lot 87 with an estimate of 450,000 to 600,00 soared to 971,950 euros. Also important to mention was the superb Kongo ivory in lot 103 that sold for 360,750 euros. For those of us that were looking was a smashing success these three sales probably fell short of our expectations. It is reasonable to speculate that maybe Paris did not get as much support from the American buyers as they have provided in the past. Considering that maybe fewer folks are traveling and uncertainty might have some buyers sitting on their paddles, then maybe these results were still in these times fairly positive.

No comments: