Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Auction House of Cards

Hart Galleries owners sentenced to 14 years
April 28, 2009, 7:43PM

The owners of Hart Galleries, a Galleria-area auction house specializing in antiques, were sentenced to 14 years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to financial crimes in connection with their business.

Jerry Hart, 65, and Wynonne Hart, 61, pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property of more than $200,000, a first-degree felony, in exchange for prosecutors dropping charges of theft and laundering.

“Mr. Hart, you are a thief in a suit. Mrs. Hart, you are a thief in a dress,” state District Judge Randy Roll told the husband and wife.

Roll noted that Jerry Hart admitted he was “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The judge said putting senior citizens in prison was difficult, but said they did not take any responsibility for stealing money from their customers. They had faced punishments ranging from probation to life in prison.

“It was a classic Ponzi scheme,” Roll said. “They were using the newest customers’ money to pay off the oldest customers.”

The sentencing came three years after the Harts’ once-glamorous auction house, which sometimes served as the setting for opulent parties, went into bankruptcy.

Restaurateur Tony Vallone called the prison sentence a huge fall for the well-known couple, whose names frequently were frequently noted in society columns.

“They were players in the community, they did a lot of charitable auctions,” Vallone said. “They were very nice people, and I liked them.”

Some of the Harts’ customers were less impressed.

Deborah Butler, who lost about $100,000 worth of furniture, said justice had been served by the sentences.

“Mr. Hart had already visited a bankruptcy attorney when he took my consignment … ,” Butler said. “It was egregiously dishonest.”

Ann Weiss, a Hart customer who lost more than $5,000, also called the sentence just.

“It will certainly be a change in lifestyle,” Weiss said of the time behind bars. “You should think about that before breaking the law.”

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Markay Stroud said the couple stole more than $4 million.

Wynonne Hart’s attorney, Stacey Bond, said earlier this week that the couple had agreed to take responsibility for paying business expenses out of the same account where they deposited consignees’ money. She said the couple owed about $1 million.

Friends and business associates wrote letters to Roll asking for him to consider giving the couple probation.

“I know in my heart and soul they never intended to cheat, not pay or do anything criminal. They were intent on saving their business and reputation. It did not work,” wrote James Julius Killough. “I hope that deferred adjudication with a restitution plan will be your conclusion, or even probation.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Madonna’s Chair May Fetch 700,000 Pounds in Design-Art Sale

By Scott Reyburn, April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Marc Newson’s “Lockheed Lounge” aluminum chair, once used by Madonna in a video clip, will be among the lots providing London auction houses’ first test of the market for “design art” in 2009.

The futuristic riveted lounger was featured in the 1993 video of the star’s single “Rain,” said the Phillips de Pury auction house. It is expected to fetch as much as 700,000 pounds ($1 million) tomorrow.

“It’s the seminal piece of contemporary design,” Kenny Schachter, a London-based dealer in contemporary art and design, said in an interview. “Everything in the market is measured against this. It’s traded as regularly as an IBM share.”

Demand for cutting-edge furniture created by leading architects and designers such as Newson, Ron Arad, Zaha Hadid and the Campana Brothers has cooled after price rises during the recent contemporary-art boom.

The chair, one of four artist’s proofs, failed to sell in 1999 at Christie’s International in London when it was offered with an estimate of 35,000 pounds to 50,000 pounds.

Another version of the Australian-born, London-based designer’s 1988 limited-edition divan ignited the auction market for contemporary furniture in June 2006 when it sold at Sotheby’s, New York, for a record $968,000. Another pushed the record up to 748,500 pounds at Christie’s, London, in October 2007.

Sotheby’s first sale in London focusing on “design art” was held in October 2008. Only half of the 46 lots found buyers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Doris Duke Sale..SALE!!! Great Prices

This is a great auction from both a provenance and sale price event. Doris Duke simply collected and collected. There is a ton of stuff! Every interior designer and collecting buff should have their antenna on high because these prices are a treasure's hunters bliss. I only scratched the surface on the items on sale, this is an auction full of debris and desirableness with fabulous deals to be had. I would have loved to attend this auction and would love to hear from anyone who goes and its being held in my high school's hometown,Delbarton man here.

"MORRISTOWN, N.J. (ACNI) - Diverse antiques and art ranging from East Asia to the East Coast, all collected by an extraordinary woman, Doris Duke, will sell at auction Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3 at the Morristown Armory.

Millea Bros. Ltd., Madison, N.J., has been preparing the 850-lot auction of property from the Doris Duke estate since February. While much attention is focused on the Asian art in the sale, the late philanthropist's interests were wide-ranging."

Beautiful and eccentric Doris Duke was once the world's richest woman and her belongings have beget many an auction since her death in 1993. The latest is a two-day auction of property from her estate being held by Millea Bros. Ltd. Auctions & Appraisals at the Morristown Armory in Morristown, N.J. The auction will include 846 lots of objects that Doris Duke collected and lived with, including pieces from her collections of European furniture and decorative objects, silver, fine art, carpets, Asian art, lighting, draperies, statuary and automobiles. The auction's lots are created in an arrangement based on the Main Residence at Duke Farms. The auction catalog groups items under categories from the Crystal Room to the Hollywood Wing. Prices range from the inexpensive like the silver corncob holders should go for under $30 to to a pair of French Bronze torchieres by Val d'Osne foundries which are estimated to go for up to $12,000. Proceeds will benefit the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation which issues grants to support the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and other causes.

Lot 498: Biedermeier style grain painted side table
Early 20th Century, with circular black glass inset top, 28"h x 30"dia. - Condition: overall poor, leg joints loosened, paint loss, shrinkage cracks - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Estimate: 120-180

Lot 495: Cartier jade mounted and lacquered silver box
Early 20th Century, rectangular in shape, the molded cover mounted with a carved green jade elephant on molded feet, marked "Cartier-Sterling - 7269", 2.5"h x 6.5"l x 3.5"d - Condition: overall poor, the majority of lacquer peeled and missing, otherwise good, possible small chip to ear - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Estimate: 800-1,200

Lot 491: Antique Louis XVI style giltwood console table
19th Century, the shaped marble top over a fluted frieze on round tapering fluted legs joined by stretchers with central flowering urn, 41.5"h x 70"l x 19.25"d - Condition: overall fair, gilding loss throughout, wear to marble top, molding loss to frieze, feet extended - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Estimate: 2,500-3,500

Lot 471: English sterling silver presentation box by Asprey & Co.
London, circa 1937, maker's marks those of Asprey & Co. Ltd., rectangular in shape, the lid with engraved map of Canada and U.S.A., no. "21619/36", 1.25"h x 6.75"l x 4"d, approx. 24.5 ozt. - Condition: overall good, light surface scratches and nicks - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Estimate: 1,000-1,50

Lot 420: Pair antique English brass andirons
19th Century, of column form with ionic capitals and ball finials, 28.5"h x 6"squ. - Condition: overall fair, log stands lacking, dents, nicks - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Estimate: 500-700

Lot 248: Antique Thai bronze Buddha torso
Probably Ayutthaya Period, with green/brown patina on custom hardwood stand, 19"h x 10.25"w x 3"d (excluding stand), 22"h (total) - Condition: overall good/fair, fragmentary, oxidized - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 600-800

Lot 237: Antique Southeast Asian carved giltwood coffee table
Part 19th Century, probably Thai, the red painted rectangular top on mirror inlaid legs ending in ball feet, 17"h x 58"l x 25"d - Condition: overall fair, adapted, molding loss, general wear and abrasions, stains - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 120-180

Lot 170: Pair antique Thai giltwood doors
18th/19th Century, with stylized floral carved frame, each: 57.5"h x 13"w - Condition: overall good, some gilding loss and damage, paint flaking - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 150-250

Lot 150: Pair antique Chinese bronze and champleve enamel lanterns
19/20th Century, of pierced globular form decorated with phoenix, dragons and cloud bands, mounted as chandeliers, 28"h x 11"dia. - Condition: overall good, light oxidation - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, purchased from Yamanaka & Co., New York
Estimate: 600-800

Lot 100: Antique Thai lacquered bronze Buddha hand
Probably 17th Century, with long delicate out-stretched fingers, on fitted hardwood base, 10"h x 7"l x 2.5"w (excluding base), 12"h (total) - Condition: overall fair, oxidized, cracked, chips - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, purchased from Gumps, Honolulu, HI
Estimate: 300-500

Lot 94: Pair antique Southeast Asian carved and polychromed wood Norasingh
19th Century, Burma or North Thailand, the backs notched as a support, 26"h x 10"w x 13.5"d - Condition: overall fair/poor, general paint loss and distressed finish, shrinkage cracks, wood loss - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 600-800

Lot 80: Antique Thai carved and lacquered wood low table
19th Century, the rectangular top over a shaped apron on cabriole legs ending in claw-and-ball feet, 10"h x 34"l x 16.75"d - Condition: overall fair, paint loss and finish distress, stain to top, shrinkage to top, chips - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 200-300

Lot 59: Pair antique Chinese porcelain garden seats
Qing Dynasty, polygonal in shape with ruyi banding and foliate scroll decoration, 18"h x 12"squ. - Condition: overall good, scratches and scuffs to glaze, some flakes to studs, no significant damage or repairs observed - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 600-800

Lot 58: Antique Thai lacquered wood scripture cabinet
18th/19th Century, the rectangular top over a tapering case fitted with 2 doors depicting a narrative scene on stile feet, 45"h x 30.75"w x 25.5"d - Condition: overall fair, general finish wear and wood distress consistent with age and use, lacquer loss, rubbing, shrinkage cracks, possible restorations - Provenance: the Doris Duke Foundation
Estimate: 1,200-1,800

Lot 32: Pair antique Chinese carved rock crystal birds
Qing Dynasty, modeled in a standing pose on hardwood base, 10.25"h x 3.25"w x 2.75"d (carving), 11"h (total) - Condition: overall good, inclusions and black flecking, small chips to feathers and toes - Provenance: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, purchased Parke-Bernet Galleries, March 8 & 9, 1956, lot #326 for $220
Estimate: 1,000-1,500

The Quiet Way of Auction House Sales

Very interesting story from yesterday's New York Times on the auction/ art world and how pieces are being sold in this new atmosphere. Well worth the read.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Great Lady Passes

Another part of my large clan passed away today and she was an important part of style and design in the last 60 years.The New York Times has a nice obit here. God Bless.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bloggers For Hire - WSJ today

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story today written by Mark Penn on America's Newest Profession: Bloggers For Hire.

"In America today, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers. Already more Americans are making their primary income from posting their opinions than Americans working as computer programmers or firefighters.

Paid bloggers fit just about every definition of a microtrend: Their ranks have grown dramatically over the years, blogging is an important social and cultural movement that people care passionately about, and the number of people doing it for at least some income is approaching 1% of American adults." Full story here and worth the read.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Juan Montoya Auction

Internationally famous Interior Designer Juan Montoya, whose work can presently be viewed at the Kips Bay Showhouse in New York City, is selling a number of pieces this week at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, NJ. Some of the pieces are classic 20th century modern and others of his own unique design.

From Auction Central News Staff
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 13:17

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. - Juan Montoya, the internationally acclaimed interior designer recognized for his bold modernist interiors, will sell select property from his modern furniture and decorative art collections at Rago Arts & Auction Center on April 25-26. Montoya's collection is part of Sollo Rago's two-day modern sale.

"We are thrilled that Juan Montoya has selected Rago as the auction house to sell his collection," said John Sollo, of Sollo Rago Modern. "The objects in this sale attest to his taste for interesting, important furniture and decorative arts and to Juan's exceptional eye for the best material, often mixed in unexpected ways."

Montoya has been a loyal patron of Rago for many years. "I've purchased major pieces of 20th century design from them," he said. "They have great depth knowledge in their fields of expertise and are very easy to work with."

According to Montoya, the sale is a gathering of furniture and decorative objects that he has collected over the past 15 years. It will consist of approximately 85 lots. Among the highlights:

* A parchment rosewood cabinet with gilt details by Osvaldo Borsani, one of Italy's most acclaimed modern furniture designers.

* A mahogany and leather upholstered armchair characterized by great proportions and angles, created by Dominique, one of the premier French Art Deco furniture makers.

* A glass countertop radiator by René-André Coulon, with a fascinating functional design. A similar example is in the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.

* An armchair, in folded sheet steel with its original upholstery, designed by René Prou in 1931 for Labormetal. Prou, one of the great designers of the Art Deco period, is renowned for his work on cruise ships, trains, apartment buildings and luxury hotels.

* A rare chair by the American architect Paul Rudolph in acrylic and chrome, the floating angles of the chair reflecting the same ideas as his modern architecture.

René Herbst designed this single-pedestal desk with integrated bookcase and armchair. The set is expected to sell for $15,000-$25,000. Photo courtesy Rago Arts & Auction Center.

The sale will also feature many custom pieces designed by Juan Montoya himself for show houses such as Kips Bay in New York and Villa Maria and Southampton, Long Island, as well as some of his experimental prototypes. The full catalogue can be seen here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Its April, Its Paris, Its Young Love..a video

I showed this video last year and still love it. April in Paris and young love.I Love Paris in the Springtime, enjoy this video. Its cute,romantic, young and in love!!

Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup

Michael Jackson auction features off-the-wall items


LA TIMES April 13, 2009.The King of Pop's Neverland Ranch has been emptied, and its treasures are up for sale -- including the crystal-studded glove, paintings of MJ in royal regalia and fiberglass servant statues.
By Booth Moore fashion critic > > >

April 14, 2009

The gates of Neverland Ranch. The crystal right-hand glove worn in the video for "Billie Jean." An arcade's worth of video games and a small army of fiberglass butlers and other figures once scattered about to make the mansion feel less lonely. These are just a few of the 1,390 lots of Michael Jackson's belongings now on the auction block in Beverly Hills.

Collected from Neverland, which the pop star vacated after being acquitted of child molestation charges in 2005, the eclectic assemblage -- a catalog of the singer's career and eccentricities -- goes on view starting today at the former Robinsons-May building for an admission fee of $20. This despite the fact that Jackson is apparently having seller's remorse.

Representatives of his production company filed suit last month in L.A. Superior Court to stop the auction, claiming that certain items, including a carousel horse with an inscription from Elizabeth Taylor, are irreplaceable and that Jackson had not signed the auction contract. Although a judge dismissed the attempt to have the contract ruled invalid, the company is seeking a preliminary injunction to delay the sale. The battle is scheduled to continue in court on Wednesday morning.

"Our attorneys are working with their attorneys to resolve this," said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, which is handling the sale. "And we are focusing on completing the job we were hired to do per our contract." (Jackson representative Tohme Tohme declined to comment.)

The bidding's already begun at juliens-, and barring an 11th-hour intervention, a live auction from April 22 to 25 will determine the winners. That famous glove is expected to go for $10,000 to $15,000. The crystal-covered tube socks, heavy-breathing life-size Darth Vader and gilded throne from Jackson's private quarters?

No one is sure quite how much of the star's debt-- estimated at more than $24 million -- those will retire. But organizers estimate the auction could fetch between $10 million and $20 million. The auction proceeds, less the auction house's commission, will go to Jackson and a music charity.

Representatives of the auction house spent three months clearing the Santa Barbara County property, now co-owned by Jackson and private equity firm Colony Capital LLC and known as Sycamore Valley Ranch. Workers gathered belongings from the main house, the theater, the office, the game room and guest cottages where luminaries such as Taylor and Marlon Brando stayed when they visited Neverland.

"We were told to take the hoods over the stove and the light fixtures, but we really wanted it to be a museum-quality project," said Darren Julien, president and chief executive of Julien's Auctions. (Still, what would the stove hoods have looked like? Italianate baroque?) "Michael Jackson is bigger than life. His collecting tastes say that as well. When he wanted something, he bought it."

The exhibition is loosely organized into three categories -- stage wear and music memorabilia, toys and Disneyana, and furniture and decorative arts. There are numerous music honors -- awards from People's Choice, Billboard, the NAACP, MTV and more -- record displays, a Madame Tussauds wax figure of the star and a letter from President Reagan. A ceremonial crown, scepter and faux ermine cape, cropped military jackets and costume brooches are reminders of Jackson's 1980s fashion icon status.

Many of the elaborately beaded tour jackets were designed by Bill Whitten. Others, such as a black suede jacket covered in miniature gold license plates and worn in a 1990 L.A. Gear ad campaign, were made by designers Dennis Tompkins and Michael Bush. (Jackson's "Thriller" jacket isn't here, though -- he decided to keep it.)

Heavy carved wood furnishings, marble tables and gilded statuary speak to the singer's ostentatious style. He is the subject of much of the art from his walls, painted as a king, leading a group of children at moonrise and being knighted.

Other decorative items include "little prince" and "little princess" chairs, civil rights and black history books with uncracked spines and a four-poster bed with a brocade bedspread more befitting a grandmother than the King of Pop.

"Neverland represents Michael Jackson's Xanadu," said Nolan. "There's something for everyone, from paintings to porcelain to bicycles." Also on offer: a tour bus, bumper cars and three- and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles.

"The bronze sculpture of an Indian with arms bound we estimate will go for $150,000 to $250,000. The 1989 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph limousine customized with 24-karat gold trim would cost $120,000 to $150,000 if you or I owned it," Nolan said. "Some of the jackets will go for $40,000 to $50,000. And we expect to get $20,000 to $30,000 for the gates. We've had worldwide interest in the gates already, with bidders from Italy to Australia."

The number of games, toys and amusements Jackson amassed is astonishing -- Disney figurines, many of Mickey Mouse, life-size "Star Wars" characters (including Han Solo in the frozen carbonite), Sega video games, pinball machines and a Neverland trolley. He also had a particular affinity for Peter Pan paraphernalia.

As for the figures of waiters, maids and butlers dispersed throughout the residence, Nolan says, "This place could feel quite lonely. I think Michael felt comfortable surrounding himself with loyal subjects like the little lady with the cup and saucer and another little lady and gentleman sitting by the fire." Apparently in the grand old days of Neverland, the waiter would have a fresh plate of cookies every day.

"That he's such an interesting character adds depth and duration to his legacy," says James Comisar, an L.A.-based curator and authenticator of Hollywood artifacts. Jackson recently announced a comeback tour to begin in July, and tickets sold out within hours. Wonder how long it will take to sell the figurine of Jackson as a California Raisin.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Wonderful Auction Created For These Times

Here is an interesting but clearly defining auction for these gray days. Ed Hardy Antiques in San Francisco, a place where you will always find beautiful pieces, has for the moment suspended usual business and is auctioning some prize pieces through Bonhams and Butterfields in San Francisco. I believe we all understand the need to pare down inventory. Lean times call for lean ideas.

Mr Hardy states, "It is with a sense of excitement and some wistful nostalgia that I announce the beginning of significant changes at Ed Hardy San Francisco.

The past few years have brought unprecedented and increasing challenges to our business climate and, truly, the world economy. I share the hope of many that 2009 will mark the advent of a recovered and sustainable market reality; yet, there are enduring challenges that must be met now.

At Ed Hardy San Francisco, we have begun to restructure the form and work of the gallery to meet both this reality and the changing nature of the antique and design industries. It is my intention to create a more flexible business model with an overall inventory reduction. We will continue to offer prompt and responsive support to our partners in design.

As a first step in this transformation, I will be offering The Ed Hardy San Francisco Collection in its entirety at an auction sale at our gallery to be conducted by Bonhams & Butterfields on Tuesday, May 5, 2009."

This is a truly eclectic and beautiful collection of pieces that stem the world of style and yet as I went through the catalogue I saw one mind picking each piece.

I think Mr. hardy and I are related because I loved almost everything. It is as if we had the same eye, which I state will complete humbleness because I appreciate his eye.

I sincerely hope this auction is a great success and allows Mr. Hardy to do what he does best. Bring beautiful objects to heathens like me.

Lets take a look at a few of the pieces on sale. You can view the full catalogue here.

Lot No: 1150W
An Italian gilt wrought iron and ebonized wood console
circa 1940, attributed to Pierluigi Colli, Turin
With elongated rectangular top above two pairs of scrolling metal strap supports and reduced coved plinth base below.
height 36 1/4in (92cm); length 6ft 3 1/2in (1.92m); depth 16 1/2in (42cm)

Estimate: $6,000 - 9,000

Lot No: 1155WY
A French burled amboyna 'Waterfall' writing table
circa 1930, in the style of Jules Leleu
With rectangular top, sloping ends and splayed feet, fitted with two short drawers with ivory ball form pulls.
height 27 1/2in (69.9cm); length 42 1/2in (1.08m); depth 16 3/8in (41.7cm)

Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000

Lot No: 1661W
An Italian brass mounted Karelian birch partners' desk
circa 1930
The long rectangular top raised on a double pedestal base consisting of U-shaped supports joined by a solid footrest with chamfered ends.
height 29 3/8in (74.5cm); width 63 1/8in (1.60m); depth 37 5/8in (95.5cm)

Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000

Lot No: 1098W
An Italian Art Deco walnut and walnut veneered fan shape desk
circa 1930
The curved top above five drawers fitted with spherical brass pulls, with matchbook burl walnut veneer, retains metal decal LUIGI GAETI FABRIBRICA DI MOBILI - BRESCIA.
height 31 3/4in (80.7cm); length 4ft 8in (1.47m); depth 28in (71.1cm)

Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000


Lot No: 1071W
A pair of amazing Italian Baroque faux marble painted fluted columns
probably Lombardy
first half 18th century
Each towering circular stop fluted column surmounted by a coved circular capital raised on a stepped circular base, overall painted a deep green faux marble.
height 10ft 11in (3.28m); diameter 19in (48cm)

Estimate: $8,000 - 12,000

Lot No: 1061
A Napoleon III yellow painted terracotta architectural fragment
mid 19th century
The rectangular panel centering a reserve of verdant scrolling acanthus terminating in lion heads within a paneled border decorated with rosettes and fleur de lys and flanked by two half round pilasters.
height 3ft 11in (1.1m); width 4ft 8in (1.4m); depth 4 1/2in (11.5cm)

Estimate: $3,000 - 5,000

Lot No: 1056W
A very fine and monumental Italian Baroque aqua and ochre painted ten light chandelier
early 18th century
The paneled baluster and multi-knopped stem with spheroid pendant, issuing paneled centrally knopped S-scroll arms, terminating in cups with molded edge.
height 4ft 7in (1.4m); diameter 5ft 2in (1.6m)

Estimate: $25,000 - 35,000

Lot No: 1025W
A fine and rare Italian Renaissance marble fountain basin
16th century
The bowed form with everted edge above a flared foot, centering a well carved caricature of a grotesque mask with foliate headdress.
height 18in (46cm); width 9ft 9in (2.93m); depth 30in (76cm)

Estimate: $25,000 - 35,000

Lot No: 1009W
A pair of Regency style cast stone plinths
Each square pedestal with chamfered corners centering a laurel wreath on a stepped base.
height 26 1/2in (67.5cm); width 20in (51cm); depth 20in (51cm)

Estimate: $2,500 - 3,50

Lot No: 1007
A French Neoclassical zinc urn
19th century
Flanked by angular handles suspending laurel swags, raised on a square base.
height 20in (51cm); width 23 3/4in (60.5cm); depth 20 1/2in (52cm)

Estimate: $1,500 - 2,000

Lot No: 1000W
An Italian Neoclassical terracotta urn on base
mid 19th century
Flanked by two crescent handles and applied with two floral sprigs with leaf decorated lower edge, raised on a separate flaring circular base.
height 24 1/2in (62cm); diameter 19 1/2in (49.5cm)

Estimate: $1,500 - 2,000

A New Blog From the Smithsonian

ART DAILY: WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian Photography Initiative announces its blog, “The Bigger Picture,” which presents an inside look at the Smithsonian’s photography collections and invites audiences to engage in an online discussion about photography’s powerful impact on our world.

Launched in January 2009 at, the blog is produced by the Photography Initiative in collaboration with guest contributors from throughout the Smithsonian. Current categories of “The Bigger Picture” include:

Collections in Focus: A behind-the-scenes look at the Smithsonian’s photo collections from researchers, archivists, curators and other Smithsonian staff.

Inside click!: Features ongoing research and discoveries made as the Photography Initiative develops the “click! photography changes everything” program.

News in the Visual: A discussion around the latest ideas and issues in visual culture.

The blog is intended to present multiple perspectives about the impact of photography and highlight the work of curators, photographers, historians and other Smithsonian staff members. It invites the general public to participate in the dialogue by commenting on Smithsonian posts.

Photography and the Smithsonian were born within a decade of each other in the mid-19th century. The Smithsonian now has more than 13 million images in 700 collections throughout its 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo. “The Bigger Picture” uses these collections and the Institution’s experts to stimulate an active conversation about the medium, its history and its meaning in people’s lives.

“The Bigger Picture” gives Smithsonian staff a way to tell the stories about how photography was used and collected by the Institution,” said Merry A. Foresta, director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative. “It also creates a forum for conversation between the Smithsonian and our audience of photograph makers, readers and, indeed, anyone interested in the way images create a bigger picture of our world.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sotheby’s Hong Kong Auction Total Drops by Half as Buyers Stall

What is interesting about this story, aside from the fact that the world recession continues it depressing decline, is that those pieces that did not sell will probably still find buyers behind the curtain. This is a lesson once again for all auction enthusiasts. If a piece does not sell on the day of the auction and you still want a chance at it, call the house and see if you can make a deal..and a deal you will be making but keep it quiet, or tell me about it. Cheer's Homer.

By Le-Min Lim

April 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sotheby’s sold HK$691 million ($89 million) of antiques, paintings and gems in its five-day Hong Kong sale, less than half of last year’s figure, as collectors delayed purchases because of financial uncertainty.

While Sotheby’s last night said wine, ceramics and paintings by Chinese masters such as Lin Fengmian boosted the total for 1,700 lots above the HK$600 million presale estimate, the tally compared with HK$1.77 billion raised in 2008.

“The financial crisis is still with us, so many potential collectors took a wait-and-see attitude,” said Michael Wang, an art collector and chief executive of Humble House Art Space.

The decline came as art dealers looked for signs of stability after declines in sale totals in New York and London. Asia auctions had been growing for a decade as Hong Kong became an arts center. This time, Sotheby’s offered fewer expensive lots, which are less attractive in an economic slowdown, and replaced them with wine lots, which are cheaper.

The company sold all of the bottles it offered at its first Hong Kong wine auction. It also set an artist record for Lin, who founded the predecessor of China Academy of Art and died in 1991. Still, works by contemporary artists, including China’s Zhang Xiaogang and Indonesia’s I Nyoman Masriadi, sold for a fraction of the record prices they fetched last year.

Art offers a haven from traditional investments; in Asia, stocks have fallen as much as a third in the past six months because of the credit crisis, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index shows.

Seeking Value

“Buyers are looking for value,” said Tian Kai, a Beijing- based art dealer who flew in to attend the auction. “Governments are printing so much money now. Fine artworks might be a better way to store value than currency.”

Lin’s oil-on-canvas “Fishing Harvest,” executed between the 1950s and 1960s and showing the catch being sorted, sold for HK$16.3 million, the priciest painting at this auction. Another Lin work was the second-highest. In third place was a 1955 oil work by another Chinese master Chang Yu, “Potted Peonies,” which sold for HK$6.3 million.

In a sign of more frugal times, Sotheby’s stopped serving free coffee and canapes. Guests and bidders had to pay HK$20 for coffee or tea, a quarter of which goes to charity, said Hong Kong-based spokeswoman Rhonda Yung.

Mainland Chinese buyers made their biggest stamp yet on the Hong Kong auction scene, sweeping most of the priciest items.

Contemporary art, the auction darlings of previous years, lost some luster.

Prices Decline

Works by Yue Minjun and Zeng Fanzhi sold for a fraction of last year’s prices. Zeng’s 1998 oil-on-canvas, “Mask Series: Man with Flower,” fetched HK$3.6 million. Yue’s 2005 oil painting, “Armed Forces,” sold for HK$4.6 million.

“Untitled,” a 2006 oil-on-canvas painting by another Chinese contemporary artist, Zhang Xiaogang, which shows the face of a boy with a yellow patch of light across his left eye, sold for HK$4.8 million. At the same auction last year, a 1995 Zhang painting sold for HK$47.4 million, a record for the artist.

A 2008 work by Masriadi, “Negosiasi,” fetched HK$1.7 million. Last October, a Masriadi painting of bloodied boxers sold for HK$7.8 million, the most for Southeast Asian contemporary art.

Jasdeep Sandhu, whose Gajah Gallery represents the Indonesian artist, said it’s unfair to compare the Masriadi paintings because “each work comes with its own merits.” For one, the record-setting piece of boxers, over 4-meter in length, is much larger than “Negosiasi,” he said.

Estimates Reduced

Sotheby’s factored in the recession and cut its presale estimates of contemporary-art pieces by an average of 20 percent at this auction, said Evelyn Lin, who heads the department.

Sotheby’s departed from the city’s auction tradition by offering bulky, non-painting Asian contemporary art, including video installations, and works by Hong Kong artists. The risk paid off. The biggest lots, including a 4-meter-long wooden chariot by Huang Yongping, all found buyers.

“We are now seeing conceptual art at Hong Kong auctions, which is fantastic,” said Sandra Walters, a Hong Kong-based collector who runs a namesake art-consulting company.

At yesterday’s antiques sale, bidders vied for ceramics of good provenance and quality. A Qing Dynasty celadon vase was the surprise top lot, selling for HK$47.7 million, or double its presale estimate. An 8th-century tortoiseshell box that was tipped as the star and slated to fetch HK$40 million didn’t sell.

Private Sale

“Obviously, we are disappointed it didn’t sell; it’s an item that’s never appeared at auction before, so there are no price comparisons,” said Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s Hong Kong- based head of Chinese ceramics. The company is negotiating a private sale of the box, Chow said.

The second most-expensive lot yesterday was a blue-and- white stembowl from the Xuande reign (1426-1435) bearing Tibetan script, which sold for HK$23 million and won by Chinese dealers.

An unidentified third party had guaranteed eight antique ceramics, all of which sold for a combined HK$95.5 million.

The sale is the first of Sotheby’s biannual auctions in Hong Kong, its third-largest market after New York and London. Rival Christie’s International will hold its auction next month.

Sotheby’s buyer’s commission is 25 percent of the hammer price for the first HK$400,000, 20 percent for between HK$400,001 and HK$8 million, and 12 percent above that

Sixty Years Ago This Month

From the Best of Life. April 1949.Artist Jackson Pollock dribbling sand on painting while working in his studio.
Springs, NY, April 1949, Martha Holmes.

The Results from Very Expensive English Furniture... for your country home.

The results are in, and yes these were very expensive pieces. Again, quality retains its value and improves.

I can't believe that it is close to twenty five years ago that the great..great..exhibition,"Treasure Houses of Great Britain" opened here in Washington to thundering crowds. I well remember how it was such a must see and what a wonderful a job the National Gallery did. I will never forget as a young man, yes I was young then, what an impression the exhibition made on me. It was all about art, furniture, rooms, fabric, floors. To those who did not have a chance to see it, I can only say I don't think anything since has made such an impression in my mind of a different culture and lifestyle.

In my memory, and I could be a few years off, it was the time of the American broadcast of the original "Brideshead Revisited." Though as I think about it, it must have been a few years apart as I know I watched the series in New York City and that I was here in DC for the exhibition. None the less, both events solidified a love of this culture, art and taste that lasts to this day. For a nice article remembering the event click here.

The reason for all this blabbering above is about an auction of course. On April 9th, 2009, Southebys is having an auction in New York entitled, " A celebration of the English Country House." The catalogue which you can view here runs through 280 lots and most everything is very expensive. So this is a dreamers auction.

I have picked a dozen pieces, of which none would fit in my small Washington apartment. Well, perhaps I could squeeze in one piece should I win the lottery, that being the "PIG"..hint. Homer collects pigs and to my older readers they know why. Still, its great fun to look at these pieces and to see in the aftermath what they went for. So again my loyal readers lets take a look at what I picked out for this, a fantasy auction.

LOT 200
20,000—30,000 USD
SOLD FOR $28,750.00. That's some expensive bacon. I hope he found a fine home.

LOT 169
CIRCA 1810
5,000—7,000 USD
SOLD FOR $3,750.00. A great deal and very Michael Smith. Do you think it might end up in DC? Naw.

LOT 157
CIRCA 1820
12,000—18,000 USD
SOLD FOR $17,500.00. You better have a large magazine subscription. I thought it was a great piece and so unusual.

LOT 144
CIRCA 1815
60,000—80,000 USD
SOLD FOR $152,000.00. Obviously a very important piece.Probably headed for a hot sandy home.

LOT 123
CIRCA 1755
150,000—250,000 USD
SOLD FOR $170,500.00. Can you imagine rolling dice on it???

LOT 121
CIRCA 1765
50,000—70,000 USD

LOT 117
15,000—20,000 USD

LOT 48
CIRCA 1735
100,000—150,000 USD
DID NOT SELL. That was for my dream library. It would have looked so great.

LOT 33
CIRCA 1725
50,000—70,000 USD
SOLD FOR $104,500.00. I'll bet this was still a great buy.

LOT 20
12,000—18,000 USD
SOLD FOR $12,500.00. They also would have looked wonderful next to that hearth.

DATED 1742
5,000—7,000 USD
SOLD FOR $4,375.00. Now they were within the realm of possible ownership.