Thursday, December 09, 2010

What's Happening at the Auctions Around the World

1. NEW YORK (AP).- An 1814 first edition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" has sold for more than half a million dollars at a New York City auction. Christie's auction house says an anonymous telephone bidder placed the winning bid of $506,500 on Friday. The pre-sale estimate was $200,000 to $300,000. Christie's says it's the only known copy in private hands and one of only 11 first-edition copies known to exist. The others are in institutions or university libraries. Francis Scott Key wrote a first draft of the poem in September 1814 after witnessing the British bombard Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The poem was then set to music. Publisher Thomas Carr rushed the song to print, resulting in typos and Key's name being omitted. It was adopted as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.

2. BEVERLY HILLS, CA.- - Brisk bidding and strong prices paced Heritage Auctions' Nov. 12 Vintage Movie Poster Auction, realizing a total of $1.486 million in its impressive debut at the company's Beverly Hills location. All prices include a 19.5% Buyer's Premium.
"Beverly Hills and vintage movie posters are a perfect fit," said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Movie Posters at Heritage Auctions, "as evidenced by the great prices we saw across the board - steady pretty much all the way."
True to form in Heritage Movie Poster Auctions, the most active bidding came on some of the scarcest items in the auction, including a superb 1935 Universal Werewolf of London half sheet movie poster, which brought $47,800 and a simply stunning oversize 1933 Austrian King Kong movie poster featuring RKO's most famous monster atop a city building, clutching Fay Wray in one hand and crushing an ill-fated biplane in the auction. After several rounds of fierce bidding the poster finished at $38,838.
"Both the Werewolf of London half sheet and the Austrian King Kong, like the best movie posters do, doubled as much as pieces of cinematic history as they did as a pieces of graphic art," said Smith. "Both of these gorgeous pieces will now be prominently featured as key pieces in advanced collections."
Other highlights of the auction included a beautiful portrait lobby card from Dracula (1931), featuring the immortal Bela Lugosi as the Count as he leans in for a bite on the exposed neck of Frances Dade as Lucy, which brought $31,070, while a wonderful early Bette Davis one sheet for the Pre-Code comedy Ex-Lady (1933) brought $19,120 and a beautiful Italian 4-foglio Style B poster to the Fellini classic La Dolce Vita (1959) brought $14,340.
World Record prices were realized for several posters, including the one sheet to the Robert Mitchum film noir classic Out of the Past (1947), which brought $17,925, while an insert to the Rat Pack classic Ocean's 11 (1960) came in at $10,755 and a gorgeous and rare mini (or midget) window card for Boris Karloff, looking as creepy as he ever did in any role, in The Walking Dead (1936) sold for $14,340.
Other notable prices include the $10,755 final price realized for both the gorgeously Art Deco one sheet to Dodsworth (1936) and an unrestored copy of the one sheet to John Ford's classic Grapes of Wrath (1940).

3. PARIS.- - Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art totalled €9.3m, led by Jean-Michel Basquiat's iconic Water-Worshipper (1984) at €2,416,750. This magnificent painting echoes Basquiat's Haitian origins, combining personal cultural memories with the evocation of oppressed minorities in the Americas.

The second highest price in this first session, €1,352,750, went to Jean Dubuffet's monumental sculpture Métalogie aux Turbulences (1971) from his celebrated Hourloupe cycle, with its flat expanses of red, blue, white and black – a contrasting approach to his earlier works, with texture banished in favour of compartmentalized surfaces of flat colour, an approach Dubuffet also used for paintings and installations.

The sale posted world record prices for two European artists: Germany's Emil Schumacher – €480,750 for his Solluk (1962); and Czech artist Josef Sima – €288,750 for Fall of Icarus II (1959), evoking the famous myth "like a luminous whirlwind disintegrating earthly matter, transformed into light as if during a cosmic catastrophe" (Frantizek Smejkal).

Meanwhile the Day Sale on December 8 saw the international art market confirm the current demand for sculptures by Robert Indiana and César. Robert Indiana's celebrated sculpture Love from 1966, in a version made in 1998, posted the session's top price of €228,750. César's impressive automobile compression Shock Red 165, shown at the Cartier Foundation in 2008 and from his famous 1998 series of monochrome compressions made from Fiat cars, sold in line with the high estimate for €202,350.

4. BEVERLY HILLS, CA.- - Fans and collectors gathered at Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills today as items that once belonged to Johnny Cash were auctioned. A bidding war erupted for the Johnny Cash jumpsuit worn during a rehearsal at San Quentin prison, made famous in the photograph known simply as “The Finger.” Bidding volleyed between bidders on the telephone, in the gallery and phone bidders, ending with the sale of the jumpsuit for $50,000. A rare poster announcing Cash’s performance at the prison sold alongside the jumpsuit for $25,000 while a 1968 passport sold for $21,875. The auction also brought $50,000 for a Martin stage used guitar. The Bicentennial shirt made by Nudie Cohn and worn by Cash as the Grand Marshall of the American Bicentennial Grand Parade in 1976 brought another bidding war and a sale of the shirt for $31,250 and Johnny Cash’s knee-high boots sold for $21,875. Among the other it ...

5. Bonhams is delighted to announce the Tuesday, December 7th results of its Fine Continental Furniture and Decorative Arts sale in New York. The 249 lot auction featured a vast selection of 18th and 19th century works by cabinetmakers such as: Francois Linke, Paul Sormani, and Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener.

"The top lot of the sale and world record holder was an impressive Louis XV style giltbronze mounted marquetry inlaid and bisque porcelain inset bureau plat by Maison Krieger, modeled after the bureau du roi in Versailles (est. $300,000-400,000, sold for $362,000); surpassing the previous record for a work by this cabinetmaker held at Sotheby's New York in 2006 for $329,600. The succeeding principal lot was a fine Louis XIV style gilt bronze, pewter, and tortoiseshell mounted ebonized premiere partie meuble d'appui by Paul Sormani, after a model by Andre Charles Boulle, fourth quarter 19th century (est. $90,000-120,000, sold for $146,000).

Highlights included: a superb Louis XIV style giltbronze mounted Boulle marquetry commode mazarine by Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener, after a model by Andre-Charles Boulle, fourth quarter 19th century (est. $40,000-60,000, sold for $128,000); a fine Louis XIV style giltbronze mounted Boulle marquetry meuble d'appui, also after a model by André-Charles Boulle, second half 19th century (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $103,700); and a fine Louis XV style giltbronze mounted marquetry commode by Zwiener Jansen Successeur, late 19th century (est. $75,000-100,000, sold for $91,500).

Additional items of note were: a German parcel-gilt and engraved beaker by Johann Sigmund Abrell, Augsburg, circa 1690-95 (est. $7,000-10,000, sold for $63,440); a fine Louis XV style giltbronze mounted kingwood and walnut bureau plat by H. Conquet, after a model by Charles Cressent, fourth quarter 19th century (est. $18,000-25,000, sold for $39,040); an Italian Neoclassical giltwood and verre églomisé console (est. $15,000-20,000, sold for $37,820); A pair of Continental carved ivory mythological groups from the late 19th century (est. $12,000-18,000; sold for $36,600); and a Louis XVI style gilt bronze mounted brèche violette marble center bowl, possibly by François Linke, last quarter 19th century (est. $10,000-15,000, sold for $26,840).

6. Paris - - Photography market: Paris rivals with New York and London [11/02/2010]

Strong demand and an abundant offer: having earned a legitimate place in the history of art, photography has become a dynamic medium with a rapidly maturing and increasingly demanding market. Today the photography medium accounts for 7% of total global auction revenue generated from Contemporary art and its auction revenue total has grown 1,300% since the end of the 1990s (+1,270% between 1998 and 2008) in a market traditionally dominated by painting, sculpture and drawing.
During the 2008-2009 crisis, collectors spent substantially less on art generally, buying fewer paintings (sales of Contemporary paintings contracted 11% in 2008-2009 compared with 2006-2007), but they do not appear to have reduced their spending on photography. The success of the photography segment is probably related to the following factors: firstly, the star signatures in the photography segment are less expensive than those of the Contemporary painting market, and secondly, photography is an easy medium to store (ideal for bulimic collectors and investors) and is totally in tune with the avid consumption of images that so much characterises the spirit of our times.
The auction triumvirate Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillip’s de Pury & Company held their special New York Photography sales from 6 to 8 October 2010. The final results were good with three-quarters of the lots sold. The stars of these sales were a portrait of Pablo Picasso by Irving PENN ($182,000 at Phillip’s de Pury & Company), a reprint of Robert FRANK ’s U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas that sold for twice its high estimate ($215,000 at Sotheby’s), Edward STEICHEN ’s Wind fire, Thérèse Duncan on the Acropolis ($115,000 at Sotheby’s), a print of Ansel Easton ADAMS Grand Tetons and the Snake River ($270,000 at Christie’s) and a daguerreotype entitled 261. Paris Etudede plantes by Joseph Philibert GIRAULT DE PRANGEY ($195,000 at Christie’s).
These six-figure results were all generated by “safe-bet”, “historical” and Modern signatures of the photography market. The following week a number of more recent photographs sold in London at the Post-War & Contemporary Art sales. Andreas GURSKY ’s spectacular cibachrome Pyongyang IV (304.5 x 207 cm) crossed the GBP 1 million threshold ($1.7m), doubling its estimated price range announced by Christie’s! In fact, since it last sold in February 2008 (at the top of the market), Pyongyang IV added a further $500,000 to its hammer price. These prices were particularly encouraging in the run-up to the Photography Month in Paris.
Paris, world capital of photography
Every year, Paris hosts a plethora of photography exhibitions throughout the capital over a period lasting roughly one month.
The core event at the origin of this effervescence around still images is the Paris Photo art fair which brings together 120 galleries from 25 countries (18 to 21 November 2010). Indeed, the Parisian event is a grander version of the September of Photography in Lyon and the Rencontres de la photographie in Arles during the summer. This year, for the 30th anniversary of the Photography Month, there will be numerous commercial and non-commercial side-events, including exhibitions by André KERTÉSZ (Jeu de Paume, until 6 February 2011), Larry CLARK (Musée National d’Art Moderne, until 2 January 2011) and Harry CALLAHAN (Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, until 19 December 2010).
At the same time, around 200 alternative exhibitions will be organised in the framework of the Photo-OFF Month and the auction houses are preparing for marathon sales: on 19 November, Sotheby’s will start the proceedings with the first Photography sale and Piasa will be offering Old, Modern and Contemporary Photographs on the same day. The following day, Christie’s is organising a major sale of works from the Richard Avedon Foundation and there will also be two specialised photography sales on 21 November: Old and Modern Photographs at Ader and Photography at Kapandji Morhange. In fact, there will be thousands of photographs offered for sale in less than one week!

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