Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Auction Prizes of 2009

Head of a Muse by Raphael Photo: CHRISTIE'S

A Great Read!!: "The Choicest Morsels"
I provided what photos I could find.

The Choicest Morsels
Business Standard
Scott Reyburn & Katya Kazakina / December 26, 2009, 0:26 IST

Highlights of 2009 in international art sales — still big money, but more conservative collecting.

A chalk drawing by the Renaissance painter Raphael that sold for $47.5 million topped auction sales in 2009, beating a Matisse still life of cowslips that made an artist record of $45.6 million.

Elsewhere, an Andy Warhol painting of dollar bills fetched $43.8 million, a Rembrandt portrait reached $32.9 million and an Art Deco chair owned by Yves Saint Laurent took $28 million.

Collectors responded to the financial crisis by selecting the best 20th-century classics, Old Masters, wine and jewellery. They shunned some contemporary art as prices halved and sales fell 75 per cent. Private transactions increased as sellers at public auctions were no longer guaranteed minimum prices in 2009.

Here are some of the key moments of the year:

February 5: Sotheby’s London sale tallied £17.9 million (then $26.15 million), the lowest at its Part I contemporary auctions in the city since 2005. On February 11, Christie’s International failed to sell Francis Bacon and Mark Rothko works that it expected would fetch as much as £5 million and £3.5 million.

February 23-25: Christie’s raised 342.5 million euros from the collection of late fashion designer Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. The total was the highest at auction of a private art collection, and defied economic gloom, said dealers. It would have been higher had Cai Mingchao, the Chinese winning bidder on two Qing dynasty bronzes, not refused to pay his bill of 31.4 million euros.

The Matisse 1911 cowslips still life Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose made 35.9 million euros, paid by New York-based dealer Franck Giraud. Records were set for other modern artists Brancusi (29.2 million euros) and Mondrian (21.6 million euros), while the Eileen Gray airchair made 21.9 million euros, a record for any piece of 20th-century design and 10 times its low estimate.

April 30: An aluminum “Lockheed Lounge” chair by Marc Newson sold at Phillips de Pury & Co in London for £1.1 million, an auction record for contemporary design. Pieces by Zaha Hadid and Ron Arad failed to sell.

May 13: David Hockney’s portrait of philanthropist Betty Freeman fetched $7.9 million at Christie’s New York, setting an auction record for the 72-year-old artist.

Christie’s $93.7 million evening tally represented a 73 per cent decline from May 2008. The previous evening, its rival Sotheby’s took $47 million, down 87 per cent from the $362 million auction a year earlier when a single painting — Bacon’s 1976 triptych — fetched $86.3 million.

June 10: Dealers reported revived demand for contemporary works at the Art Basel fair in Switzerland. A diamond-encrusted sculpture by Takashi Murakami sold for $2 million at the VIP preview. While visiting the fair, Los Angeles-based collector Eli Broad said a decline in contemporary-art prices had “levelled out”./

July: The financier J Ezra Merkin, sued by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo over his role as a provider of client funds to Bernard Madoff, privately sold Rothko and other art that had been frozen in the litigation, for $310 million.

October: A new Leonardo da Vinci drawing was announced. A chalk, pen and ink drawing of a girl in profile, sold at auction for $19,000 in the late 1990s, was examined by the Montreal-based forensic expert, Peter Paul Biro, who found a fingerprint corresponding to one on Leonardo’s painting St Jerome. It was valued at £100 million by London-based dealer Simon Dickinson. Discreet approaches have been made to a number of prospective buyers by its owner, Paris-based trader Peter Silverman, said dealers.

November 11: Warhol’s painting of 200 $1 bills fetched $43.8 million at Sotheby’s in New York. The seller, London-based collector Pauline Karpidas, paid $385,000 for the work in 1986. The 1962 silkscreen was temptingly estimated at $8-12 million and topped contemporary-art auctions that marked a return of confidence among both sellers and buyers, said dealers.

November: Shanghai-based collector Liu Yiqian paid about 170 million yuan ($25 million) at Poly International Auction Co in Beijing for a Ming Dynasty scroll by Wu Bin, a record for a Chinese painting. It was one of the high prices paid in 2009 by mainland buyers for pieces with Imperial connections.

December 1: A ring with a five-carat pink diamond sold for a record HK$83.5 million ($10.8 million) at Christie’s Hong Kong. During the sales, Christie’s sold HK$40 million of wine, including a 78-bottle lot of 1999 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, which fetched HK$1.44 million.

December 8: A drawing in black chalk by Raphael sold at Christie’s London for £29.2 million, an auction record for any work of art on paper. The work had been entered by the heirs of the British collector Norman Colville, with a low estimate of £12 million. It was bought on the telephone, dealers said, by the US-based collector Leon Black, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Earlier in the sale, Rembrandt’s 1658 canvas, Portrait of a Man with Arms Akimbo, sold for £20.2 million to a telephone bidder later identified as Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn. The painting was sold by Johnson & Johnson heiress, Barbara Piasecka Johnson.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Classic Reminder Of What Christmas Is All About?

Linus reminds us below. Merry Christmas everyone. Peace.

Thats what its all about Charlie Brown.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Partdrige In A Pear Tree Kinda Xmas Story

Working in retail during the Christmas Season, my third, takes nerve, endurance and occasional fun and today we had fun.

Opened for the first day after the incredible snowstorm here in DC, we found ourselves so busy that it was hard to keep up with what had to be accomplished. We did however find time to pull off a stunt that had us falling off the chairs with cheer and Xmas spirit among our close working group.

Last Friday before the storm hit, UPS delivered a package to the store for one of the elegant ladies I'm so lucky to work with, who wasn't working that day. The package said it was perishable and should be opened immediately. Those of us in the store looked at each other wondering wether we should open the box to keep it from spoiling through the weekend. At this point we didn't know that a historic snowstorm was on the way and that we wouldn't be open for the weekend before Christmas.

So,,,we opened the box to find a lovely tin of individually wrapped cookies that would be fine through the New Year and we looked at each other and said, "Oh we have to do something fun here."

Looking around the store I spied a bowl of faux pears and it struck me. The box said, "Perishables." So we carefully took out the cookies and artfully, with beautiful tissue, placed the fake pears in the box. Very Harry and David mind you, and so they sat through an historic snowstorm til this morning.

Need I say more.

She opened the box and saw the beautiful tissue, wrapping these perfect pears.We sat there silently and cooed and ahhhed, waiting for her comments to erupt. It took a good six seconds after she opened the box and pulled out a fake pear for her to react.

Needless to say we laughed forever. A Merry Christmas to all co-workers. There are days we want to strangle each other and days we love each other. The latter was today.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh My Washington And Snow. It's So Pretty.

My town is going crazy but I think and hope it will be a beautiful White Christmas here in DC. It looks like I'll have time tomorrow to update. Merry Christmas all.

Here's what I'm singing tonight.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Guess I Need More Than New Undershirts

Douglas Friedman for The New York Times; Typography by Jennifer Green

NYTimes: "Dress Codes
Dressing for Success, Again
Published: December 16, 2009

"THE runaway phenomenon that is “Mad Men,” with its stylish depiction of Kennedy-era New York, where men dressed with style and philandered with impunity, has handed modern men their very own “Sex and the City” fantasy."

For the past two years during my mid-life career change I have relished the fact that I haven't had the need to put on a suit and tie and have loved the kakhi's and sweater look. I vowed never to care about being all spruced up.

However, just the other day a guy came into the store, I'd say early thirties and I admit I took a second look. From the Dark Blue Cashmere towncoat to the perfectly shined loafers, he looked like a million bucks and he reminded me of me at that age.

So this article from the today's New York Times caught me by surprise! I've become what I least want to be and from here on pledge to return to being a well dressed gentleman. Kudos to my friend and always well dressed blogger, "Easy and Elegant Life." He is and always should be a role model and I can't believe the NYTimes didn't credit/mention him!! I simply don't want to be a sloppy old fart. Okay I was never sloppy and I won't wear a bow tie unless its with a Tux. Here's the NYTimes article. Its fun and now I have to think about what to wear this Saturday night!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not Sure This Is An Improvement But Like The Effort

From Gizmodo:The Plaza del Torico in Teruel, Spain was renovated with something even better than yellow bricks—over 1230 color-changing LED lamps embedded in the pavement.

It's kind of like that fiber optic pavement you might have seen at an amusement park in the past, only on a larger scale. The whole system can be programmed to change colors and patterns in sequence. [Arch Daily via notcot Images via Duccio Malagamba]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rembrandt Portrait, Raphael Drawing Set Sale Records

Bloomberg News:
By Scott Reyburn

Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- A portrait by Rembrandt sold for 20.2 million pounds ($32.9 million) at Christie’s International today in London, a record for the artist at auction. Less than an hour later, a Raphael drawing fetched 29.2 million pounds, the most paid for an Old Master drawing at a public sale.

The two works had the highest valuations on an Old Master painting and drawing, said the auction house. Valuations of a diminishing supply of Old Masters have shown little change and, for the rarest works, increased, said dealers. This contrasts with estimates for contemporary art, which have been slashed by as much as 50 percent after the financial crisis.

“Prices at auction are very strong because there isn’t much out there,” Johnny van Haeften, a London-based dealer, said in an interview. “People don’t want to sell at the moment. They’re saying, ‘If I let a painting go, where do I put the money? I’d rather keep it in a work of art.’”

Barbara Piasecka Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress, was the seller of the 1658 “Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo” at Christie’s sale of Old Masters and 19th-century art, said dealers. The price for the Dutch artist exceeded the 19.8 million pounds paid by the late Maastricht-based dealer Robert Noortman for a portrait of an old woman at Christie’s, London, in 2000. That picture now belongs to the U.S.-based collector Eyk Van Otterloo.

The Rembrandt work that sold tonight, which had a low estimate of 18 million pounds, was bought by a single telephone bidder giving instructions to Paul Raison of Christie’s.

Black Chalk

The black-chalk study for the head of a muse in Raphael’s 1510-11 Vatican fresco “Parnassus” had been entered by the heirs of the British collector, Norman Colville, with a low estimate of 12 million pounds.

The record price for an Old Master drawing at auction was jointly held by Michelangelo’s “The Risen Christ” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Horse and Rider,” both of which fetched 8.1 million pounds with fees at Christie’s in July 2000 and July 2001 respectively

Audrey Hepburn Will Alawys Be Great

She will live forever.

Hepburn's dress takes nearly $100,000 at auction

(AP) – 5 hours ago

LONDON — The black cocktail dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in "How to Steal a Million" has sold for nearly $100,000 at auction.

Kerry Taylor Auctions says the Chantilly lace dress sold to an anonymous bidder for 60,000 pounds (about $97,700).

It was one of 40 items from Hepburn's wardrobe sold off by her friend Tanja Star-Busmann.

The auctioneer said Tuesday's sale made a total of 268,320 pounds. It says half of the net proceeds will go to The Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some Fun Xmas Buys At Ragos Auction House - Results

Ragos Auction House in Lambertville, NJ is having an estate auction this December 5th. I went through their catalogue and found some very fun things that I for one would love to find under the Christmas Tree this year. We'll take a look afterward to see what they went for. Let's look shall we? Here's the entire catalogue.

William E. Skilling (American 1892-1964) "Zebra", oil on canvas (framed). Signed. 48" x 60" Provenance: Bucks County Estate"

$3,000 - $4,000
SOLD FOR $5,795.00. I love Zebras. He was kinda pricey.

Pair of Dresden exotic bird figurines, 19th C. Brightly colored, standing on branches. One marked Dresden. Tallest: 14 1/4"

$600 - $800
SOLD FOR $732.00. Nice looking on the right mantel.

Remember these? They didn't sell last time and I would so love to see them in person.
Fine pair of tortoiseshell chairs in the Regency style with horsehair upholstery, late 19th/early 20th C. 34" x 19 1/2" x...

$8,000 - $12,000
SOLD FOR $9,760.00. God I wanted to see them! Cheer's new owner.

So different for a shelf.
Spirit house, Thailand. Carved wood and gold leaf with ornate designs. Known as a spirit house or san phra phum, these small...

$200 - $400
SOLD FOR $153.00. Very fair very cute.

What great mantel pieces. I think they are just great looking.
Pair of Chinese cloisonne elephants, 19th/20th C. Facing in opposite directions as they stand at rest on supporting platforms,...

$4,000 - $6,000
THEY SOLD but the price reported was mistyped I'm sure so I'll go with $3,416.00. Pricey L'elephants.

Chinese tea cannister on a wrought iron base, 19th C. 58" x 21" dia."

$400 - $600
SOLD FOR $915.00. Such an interesting piece.

Horse portrait, 19th C. Oil on canvas (framed). 20" x 24"

$1,000 - $1,500
SOLD FOR $1,098.00. Very fair.

I can't say how much I love these. I've never seen anything like them.
Pair of figural sailboat andirons, 20th C. In full sail with flags waving. Wrought iron with sheet metal sails. 26"

Auction Date: Sat, December 05, 12PM

Estimate: $400 - $600
SOLD FOR $1,098.00. Not surprised. I'd love to have seen them in person.

Turn this into a lamp
English barrister wig in 19th C. Toleware box, the name Gardner S. Bazleye in gilt stenciling. Box: 11"

Auction Date: Sat, December 05, 12PM

Estimate: $500 - $700
SOLD FOR $1,037.00. A bit pricey.

French marble column clock, 19th C. Figural chariot figure on top, time and strike movement. 22"

Auction Date: Sat, December 05, 12PM

Estimate: $700 - $900
SOLD FOR $1,098.00

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Turner Prize 2009

Why do all the interesting art prizes seem to come out of the UK? I thought today's announced winner, Richard Wright, was a great choice though I'm saddened that the piece will be destroyed at the end of the exhibition.

The Turner Prize is a contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art.

The prize is awarded each year to a British artist under fifty for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding'

From Financial Times: "Richard Wright wins Turner prize

By Peter Aspden, Arts Correspondent

Published: December 7 2009 20:22 | Last updated: December 7 2009 20:22

Richard Wright, the Glasgow-based artist who paints abstract designs on to site-specific surfaces only for them to be destroyed at the end of their display, is the winner of this year’s Turner prize.

Mr Wright, who at 49 only just qualified for this year’s prize for the work of a British artist under the age of 50, was nominated for exhibitions of his painting at Pittsburgh and Edinburgh.

The judges praised the “profound originality and beauty” of his work. “[He] uses elaborate and labour-intensive methods to create transient works that respond directly to the architecture and context of a space,” they said. “Rooted in fine art tradition yet radically conceptual in impact, his works come alive as they are experienced by the viewer.”

Mr Wright was presented with the £25,000 prize at Tate Britain on Monday by Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate. The other finalists, Lucy Skaer, Enrico David and Roger Hiorns, received £5,000 each.

The choice to reward an essentially decorative painter will delight traditionalists, although the way in which Mr Wright works, painting on awkward or delicate surfaces that do not last, is decidedly contemporary. Mr Wright’s installation at Tate Britain’s current Turner prize show is a huge, untitled gold-leaf work which took three weeks to paint on one of the gallery’s walls. It will be destroyed at the end of the exhibition.

Mr Wright graduated from Glasgow School of Art and spent 12 years painting on canvas before giving up on his art in the 1980s. When he started again, he decided to display his work on unorthodox surfaces. “I wanted to get at the idea without the object getting in the way,” he said.

Influences on his highly labour-intensive, decorative work include medieval painting, gothic iconography and typography. In 2004, as part of a group show, he put up prints of his designs over torn posters and the graffiti-filled walls of Mexico City. “I wanted to make work that is part of everything else,” he said.

Mr Wright’s victory defied the bookies, who had strongly favoured Roger Hiorns. His installation “Seizure”, in which he pumped 75,000 litres of copper sulphate solution into a south London council flat to create a crystalline structure, has attracted thousands of visitors.

The Turner prize has lost some of its controversial edge in recent years. But Stephen Deuchar, the outgoing director of Tate Britain, said the annual exhibition of shortlisted artists’ work was as popular as ever, with last year’s show attracting more than 90,000 visitors."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

That December Coupon at Kellogg

A Hidden Treasure. Through the month of December you can come in and ask for the December Coupon which is good for any full price in stock piece and get 25% off. Homer's tip of the day.

I'm happy to report that we were busy at the store over the Thanksgiving Weekend. The weather wasn't all that great and I've come to know that when Mom and Grandmom have had enough of the family they come to us for some Christmas ideas and a bit of shopping in the best store in DC.

Everyone worked hard to make the store look cheery and welcoming and I took these pics to show it off. We have lots of great gifts for Xmas parties and there is going to be a great sale this week for four days only. Come in and ask for Homer and I'll show you the secret deals.Enjoy and come on by!

Weschler's December Auction

There were some nice deals had at today's auction. Almost everything I picked sold for less then their estimates. It makes me think that the economy is still in the tank despite the media and administration saying we are coming out of these dark days. Results below.

There are some nice pieces for sale at Weschlers' Auction House here in Washington DC on their December 5th sale. With Santa on his way I personally prefer a gift from an auction house, since it requires just a small bit more effort to acquire. I also don't mind if that gift doesn't fit under the tree. Actually I prefer if it doesn't! I have thrown a few pieces of jewelry into my choices, for that hidden small box underneath the tree. Diamonds and pearls simply look silly on me!! Wait, I forgot about cufflinks.I might have to take another look. Anyway, lets take a look at a few items up for auction. The full catalogue can be seen here. I'll report back on what they sold for.

Lot 731
Otis Pierce Cook, Jr. (American 1900-1980)
Rockport Street Scene, Summer
Signed Otis Cook l.r.
Oil on canvas
20 x 24 in (50.8 x 61 cm)
Estimate $2,000-3,000
SOLD FOR $1,400.00. A Nice buy. I liked it.

Lot 672
Willy Brandes (German 1876-1956)
Bringing in the Cows
Signed W Brandes l.r.
Oil on panel
13-1/4 x 19-1/4 in (33.7 x 48.9 cm)
Estimate $800-1,200
SOLD FOR $500.00. Another nice buy.

Lot 631
Norwegian Rosewood Mobile Drinks Table
Rasmus & Solberg, Circa 1962
Having a circular half-hinged top opening to view a revolving gray plastic insert with twelve glass slots and two removable pie-shaped trays centering a cylindrical ice well. The interior with an applied gold foil label inscribed 1st PRIZE NORWEGIAN DESIGN/ COMPETITION 1962/ DES. RASTAD OG RELLING/ PROD. RASMUS SOLBERG.
Height: 18-1/2 in (47 cm); Diameter: 23-1/2 in (59.7 cm)
Estimate $500-700
SOLD FOR $300.00. I didn't see it to inspect it but thought it a fun piece. Hope the buyer loves it.

Lot 611
French Art Deco Chrome-Mounted Ébène-de-Macassar Two-Pedestal Desk
Circa 1930s
The right side with a pull-out leaf; each drawer fitted with a chrome-plated ball pull. Some repairs and cracking to veneer.
Height: 31 in (78.7 cm); Width: 55 in (139.7 cm); Depth: 31-1/4 in (79.4 cm)
Estimate $2,000-3,000
SOLD FOR $1,600.00. Again sold on the cheap. I think some deals were had.

Lot 602
Pair of Art Deco Style Bone Inlaid Ébène-de-Macassar Serpentine Consoles
Circa 1950s
Minor chips and restorations to veneer.
Height: 36 in (91.4 cm); Width: 36 in (91.4 cm); Depth: 15-1/4 in (38.7 cm)
Estimate $2,000-4,000
SOLD FOR $4,800.00. Great looking pieces for the right spot.

Lot 596
Pair of Belgian Art Deco Brass Mounted Ebonized Wood Nightstands
Design by De Coene Frères, Circa 1940s
En suite with preceding lot. Each panel door opening to view a birchwood veneered interior. One stamped on underside with encircled G.R. mark. Each with minor abrasions to the top.
Height: 21-3/4 in (55.2 cm); Width: 20 in (50.8 cm); Depth: 14 in (35.6 cm)
Estimate $800-1,200
SOLD FOR $1,100.00. A fair price.

Lot 593
French Art Deco Style Brass-Mounted Figured Walnut Escritoire
Circa 1960s
The slightly slanting, hinged writing lid opening to view a gilt and tooled tan leather writing surface beneath an arrangement of four pigeonholes, two stacked drawers and a small panel door with chrome-plated brass knob pulls above a single frieze drawer. The underside of case with applied brass tag impressed L III/ 5 88. Minor chips and abrasion to veneer.
Height: 39 in (99 cm); Width: 29 in (73.7 cm); Depth: 16 in (40.6 cm)
Estimate $800-1,200

Lot 575
Antoine Vriens (Belgian 1902-1987)
Signed Vriens and dated 1937
Bronze sculpture with dark brown patina
Height: 23 in (58.4 cm)
Estimate $2,000-3,000
SOLD FOR $1,800.00

Lot 574
Arthur Dupagne (Belgian 1895-1961)
Man on a Pirogue
Bronze sculpture with dark brown patina raised on a green and black rectangular marble base
Height of sculpture: 14-1/4 in (36.2 cm)
Estimate $5,000-7,000

Lot 547
Daum Ormolu Mounted Mottled Glass Plafonnier
First Quarter 20th Century
Having a domed, circular form composed of blue and green mottled glass fitted with three ormolu ram's head mounts. Unsigned.
Diameter: 22-1/2 in (57.2 cm)
Estimate $500-1,000
SOLD FOR $1,700.00. Loved that piece.

Lot 527
Murano Glass Vase
Signed Toso, Circa 1950s
Having a tapering clear glass form with controlled bubble decoration and applied vertical ribs. Inscribed TOSO/ MURANO.
Height: 13-1/4 in (33.7 cm)
Estimate $500-700
SOLD FOR $950.00

Lot 99
Platinum, Diamond and Emerald Floral Brooch
Set with twenty round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately 2.70 carats, sixty-nine straight baguette-cut diamonds weighing approximately 3.25 carats, and thirteen pear-shaped graduated emeralds weighing approximately 3.25 carats.
Total weight of diamonds: 5.95 carats
Gross weight: 13.7 dwt.
Length: 2 inches (5.1 cm)
Width: 1-1/4 inches (3.2 cm)
Estimate $3,000-4,000
SOLD FOR $2,600.00

Lot 60
18-Karat Yellow-Gold, White-Gold, Diamond, Ruby and Black Enamel 'Panther' Pendant
The eyes set with two round faceted rubies weighing approximately .06 carats, the whiskers set with two round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately .02 carats, and the bail set with four round brilliant-cut diamonds weighing approximately .05 carats.
Total weight of diamonds: .07 carats
Gross weight: 15 dwt.
Length: 2 inches (5.1 cm)
Width: 1-1/4 inches (3.2 cm)
Estimate $600-800
SOLD FOR $550.00