Monday, May 19, 2014

Auctions Around The World - Spring 2014

 Prix de Monaco Historique, the sale saw records tumble as an international audience of bidders scrambled to secure some of the finest historic sports and racing cars ever offered at auction.
MONACO.- Boasting a sale total of €41,303,830 and with an incredible 93 percent of all lots sold, RM Auctions , the world’s largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, has once again set the collector car market on fire with an incredible performance in Monaco this weekend. Taking place alongside the Grand
With a packed auction room and strong bidding via both telephone and the Internet, the attending audience was treated to an electric atmosphere which lasted through to the final of the 90 lots offered. The top selling car of the night was the simply stunning, and ultra rare 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C with coachwork by Scaglietti. Chassis 09067 is the ninth of only twelve such cars produced and perhaps the most original example of its kind, therefore presenting a very rare opportunity indeed. The hammer finally fell at a record-breaking €5,712,000, making it comfortably the most valuable fixed-head Ferrari 275 ever sold at auction. In an evening which once again saw the Ferrari marque dominate and secure six of the top ten prices paid, it was the gorgeous 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Series I Cabriolet, chassis 1181 GT, that generated the second highest bid of the evening, securing €4,704,000 to become the most valuable of its model ever sold at auction. Rounding off the top three sellers was the 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS, chassis 10719, one of ninety-nine built and a multiple concours winner, which found a new home for €2,128,000.
Max Girardo, Managing Director of RM Auctions, Europe, says: “It’s not often I’m lost for words, but I am simply stunned by what we have achieved tonight in Monaco. From a results perspective, this has been our biggest ever European sale and the 93 percent sell through figure is testament to the diversity and depth of quality that we had on offer. The atmosphere and energy was incredible right through to the final lot and it’s a particular delight that we have attracted so many enthusiastic new bidders from all around the world.”
Perfectly matched to a sale taking place in Monaco alongside the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, the roster of cars on offer included a large number of sports-racing and single-seater grand prix cars. Among the feature lots was the immaculate, race-ready 1966 Brabham-Repco BT20 Formula One car, a significant racer which had been victorious at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix in the hands of Denny Hulme during his championship-winning year. Boasting that kind of provenance, it was particularly satisfying to see the car achieve €1,092,000, a stunning sum which smashed its pre-sale high estimate of €720,000. The Brabham wasn’t the only lot on offer to have a particularly strong relationship with the principality, as RM also proudly offered the 1958 Riva Tritone also known as ‘Via’. This super-stylish and powerful boat was owned from new by H.S.H. Prince Rainier lll of Monaco and his wife, Princess Grace, and is therefore an important piece of cultural history in the principality. Wonderfully restored and totally stunning, the boat secured €403,200.

NEW YORK, NY.- Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: “A key factor in tonight’s successes was our longstanding relationships with top collectors, and our partnership with them throughout the sale process – the three works from the Private American Collection that led our sale, Monet’s Le Pont japonais, and more were non-competitive consignments. It was a privilege to offer Picasso’s spectacular Le Sauvetage exactly a decade after we last auctioned it in New York, and we are thrilled to see its price double in that time. We are pleased to once again deliver exceptional results on behalf of a great American institution, with Monet’s Sur la Falaise à Pourville selling for well over its high estimate to benefit the
Acquisitions Fund of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
- The impact of significant bidding and buying from Asian collectors was felt throughout the sale, with eight lots purchased by Asian collectors for a total of $63.9 million – nearly 30% of the auction total
o Henri Matisse’s La Séance du matin sold for $19,205,000 to an Asian Private Collector
o Claude Monet’s Le Pont japonais sold for $15,845,000 to an Asian Private Collector
o Alberto Giacometti’s La Place sold for $13,045,000 to an Asian Private Collector
- The auction was led by three works emerging from a private American collection, which together achieved $57.1 million – surpassing their high estimate of $53 million
o Led by Picasso’s Le Sauvetage from 1932 that sold for $31,525,000 after a prolonged bidding battle, soaring over its high estimate of $18 million
§ Le Sauvetage last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York a decade ago, in May 2004, when it fetched $14.8 million
- Three works by Claude Monet totaled $28 million, led by Le Pont japonais that sold for $15,845,000 to a private Asian collector after a competition between four bidders
o Monet’s Sur la Falaise à Pourville, sold to benefit the Acquisitions Fund of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, achieved $8,229,000, surpassing its high estimate of $7 million
o Over the last 3 years, property from American museums has outperformed high estimates by a combined $100 million at Sotheby’s
- Following Sotheby’s enormously successful of works from the estate of Jan Krugier this February in London, 11 additional works from the estate achieved $32.9 million in tonight’s sale – in excess of their $26.8 million high estimate
o Led by Alberto Giacometti’s Femme de Venise V, which achieved $8,789,000 (est. $6/8 million)
- All five works by Alberto Giacometti on offer in the auction were sold, for a total of $35.1 million
o Led by La Place, Giacometti’s very first multi-figural sculpture, which brought $13,045,000 (est. $12/18 million)
o Tonight’s offering follows Sotheby’s sale of Grande tête mince (Grande tête de Diego) in November of last year for $50 million –the top Impressionist & Modern lot of 2013 worldwide
NEW YORK, NY.- On April 28, 2014, Doyle New York auctioned a pair of rare natural pearls for $3,301,000 -- a world auction record for a pair of natural pearls. They were purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder.
The staggering price far surpassed the prior world record for a pair of natural pearls set last year. In May 2013, Sotheby’s Geneva sold a pair of natural pearls from the collection of Gina Lollobrigida for $2.4 million. That pair broke the earlier record of $1.99 million set by Christie’s New York at the sale of the collection of Elizabeth Taylor in December 2011.
The drop-shaped pearls sold at Doyle New York measured approximately 9/10 inch in height and 1/2 inch wide, and were warm gray in color. They were mounted with antique silver and diamond caps, which were set onto a circa 1920 platinum and diamond pendant.
The pearls were accompanied by a hand-written note referring to the pearls as having belonged to Empress Eugenie of France. In 1887, following the fall of Napoleon III and his wife, Empress Eugenie, an historic auction of the French Crown Jewels took place in the Louvre, lasting twelve days.
The pearls then descended in the family of two prominent industrialists of America’s Gilded Age. They were first purchased by George Crocker (1856-1909), the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California and left a fortune estimated between $300-400 million.
The pearls were later owned by the descendants of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) of Massachusetts, an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railroad.
The pearls were accompanied by a report from the Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF stating that the pearls were natural saltwater pearls with no indications of artificial color modification. The Institute added a special statement describing the pearls in remarkably enthusiastic language, stating: “Assembling a matching pair of natural pearls of this size and quality is very rare and exceptional, and thus this pair of pearls can be considered a very exceptional treasure of nature.”

DENVER, PA.- One of the world’s five finest prehistoric birdstones occupies the top roost in Morphy’s May 17 auction of superior-quality, vetted and fully warranted prehistoric American artifacts. Known as the Parks Birdstone, the celebrated artifact estimated to be around 2,500 years old has remained in the same family since 1951, when it was discovered in a plowed field in DeKalb County, Indiana. It ended up in the collection of renowned collector Cameron Parks, hence the name “Parks Birdstone.”
“Top birdstones have sold privately for $800,000 to $900,000. Because of its mystical and unique blue halo, the Parks Birdstone should set a world record price on May 17th – not only for a birdstone, but also for any North American prehistoric art object,” said John Mark Clark, the department head
and specialist who is supervising the auction.
Another premier entry is an 8-inch-long translucent orange kaolin flint Ross blade from the Hopewell culture that flourished along rivers in the northeastern and Midwestern United States from 200 BC to 500 AD. An exalted ceremonial piece, the blade is described by Clark as “exotic ceremonial regalia so rare it would have been reserved for only the most elite. Now, many centuries later, it is still a prize suitable for only the most select, high-end collection.” The Ross blade is expected to make in excess of $200,000.
Trophy game stones or, “discoidals,” are well represented in the auction. An exquisite, double-cupped example displays impeccable balance and form, while other highly desirable discoidals include one of red and white "flint" with highly polished cups, three exquisite Jersey Bluff-style quartz discs and several of Cahokia style.
What is considered to be the finest cache of Dover flint Copena points yet discovered will add excitement to the auction, along with Earl Townshend's monumental 7-inch Corner Notch Blade. An incredible translucent “white-tipped" sugar-quartz Clovis point is also included in the sale, along with a tremendous Agate Basin spear and coveted projectile points from all cultural time periods.
Prehistoric Caddo and Mississippian-Era pottery will be available, including a solid, unrestored Caddo effigy duck bowl and several pottery bottles and bowls engraved with rare Caddo motifs. A huge human "rattle-head" Mississippian bowl (restored) with a fantastic hairstyle will also be auctioned.
A fine selection of bannerstones includes a ferruginous-quartz hourglass, a speckled-granite rectangular barrel, and a saddleback-style banner of colorful speckle-chunk granite. Perhaps the rarest of the group is an exquisitely made wiry-granite butterfly banner with an engraved barrel, one of only two known.
Another auction highlight is a pair of museum-grade Southern “Dallas” culture limestone ear spools. The prehistoric wearable artworks retain remnants of their original copper-foil covering.
In addition to the satisfaction prehistoric artifact collectors derive from owning remarkable pieces of history such as those to be sold on May 17th, Clark says many in the hobby regard the objects as solid investments.
“From a worldwide perspective, current prices in the North American marketplace are a fraction of what is being paid for comparable examples throughout the rest of the world,” Clark said. “In part, this is attributable to the fact that often such artifacts are not backed by any sort of warranty. Some of the pieces in our upcoming sale have been tucked away quietly in family collections for more than 60 years, and this will be the first time they have ever been offered publicly. But on top of that, Morphy’s stands behind the authenticity of every artifact they sell. This makes a tremendous difference to collectors. They want that comfort factor in place when they bid.”
Morphy’s Saturday, May 17 Prehistoric American Artifacts Auction will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live online through Morphy Live (, LiveAuctioneers, Proxibid or Invaluable. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435 or email
Note the Morphy birdstone sold for $300,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- Thanks to the trained eye of Antiques Roadshow expert Lark Mason, a twin set of extraordinary 400-year-old Chinese chairs have been reunited and are now up for auction. Against the backdrop of China's momentous history-wars, famines, political tumult and a long list of rulers of wildly varying dispositions-these identical museum-worthy Huanghuali chairs stood side by side, decade after decade, century after century. Then, after all that time, the chairs came to be separated.
According to Mason, the renowned authority in Chinese art and antiquities and the former director of online auctions at Sotheby's, the story of these chairs begins with an American ambassador named Philip Manhard, who as young foreign service officer was stationed in Tientsin in late 1949 and charged with overseeing American interests in China. "It was a tense, confusing time," says Mason. "The Nationalist government fled to Taiwan and the Chinese Communist government took over the country. And it was at this point that Manhard found himself in the advantageous position to make a very noteworthy purchase." Chinese citizens who could get passage out of Tientsin were clamoring to sell prized possessions to the few remaining Western residents, Manhard among them.

Even in a market flooded with heart-stoppingly beautiful furniture, paintings, Imperial ceramics and other objets d'art, says Mason, Manhard could not have failed to recognize the outstanding quality of two 17th-century chairs that must have stood out very conspicuously. Says Mason: "They are simply outstanding. The quality is extraordinary; the condition, superb. The moldings are finely beaded, and the crest rails and handgrips are boldly curved. Is it any wonder Manhard could not resist them?"
Manhard continued his foreign service career, ultimately serving as ambassador to Mauritius. He and his family eventually settled outside of Washington, D.C., where he raised two sons, Philip Jr. and Richard. The pair of chairs were the standouts in a modest household inventory that included an array of other Asian works of art. Manhard passed away in 1998, but not before conveying to each scion one of the chairs. Son Phil moved to Englewood, Fla., and Rick to Sterling, Va., each taking his heirloom with him.
In late 2013, Philip contacted Lark Mason for an opinion. The moment his e-mail arrived with a photo attached, Mason recognized the chair as a masterwork of the Chinese cabinetmaker's craft, dating from the late Ming Dynasty. After a series of conversations about a possible sale, Phil revealed that his chair is one of a pair, a discovery that all the more thrilled Mason, who reached out to Phil's brother, Rick. A visit to him in Virginia resulted in the chair's being brought to New York, where it was reunited with its mate in Lark Mason Associates. The chairs are now being offered for sale as a pair in an auction of works of art that closes on April 30th. (Estimate:$120,000-$180,000).
Chairs of this type rarely have both pierced aprons with upright braces and beaded legs, although both features are individually commonly associated with examples from the late 16th or early 17th centuries. The striking curvature of the S-scrolled splats and the dramatic grain enhance both chairs.
Concludes Mason: "These beautiful chairs are now ready to begin a new chapter in their long, long lives, a chapter that may well take them back to China, the location of their birth, bringing this noteworthy tale full circle."

No comments: