Thursday, January 28, 2010

A ‘Roadshow’ Star Grabs the Gavel

A brave man who I wish great good luck. Passion triumphs all.

NYTimes January 22:

A ‘ROADSHOW’ STAR Grabs the Gavel."

"The Americana dealer Leigh Keno, as maniacally enthusiastic in person as he comes across on “Antiques Roadshow,” was recently giving a tour of his Upper East Side store. It closed last summer; a few forlorn typeset labels were still posted on the bare walls, but the usual displays of lightly polished brown furniture have been taken away. The rooms were piled instead with hundreds of consignments for an auction house he has improbably founded, at a sluggish time for the Americana market.

On Saturday he will hold an all-day sale preview at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue at 61st Street. (The auction is on May 1 and 2 at the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Conn.) His new company, Keno Auctions, is filling a hotel conference room with scrimshaw, ceramics, nested baskets, silver (including web-footed 1780s sauceboats by Paul Revere), furniture (there’s an 1830s mahogany crib made by Duncan Phyfe for his grandson), and paintings and drawings (among them 1770s watercolors that a teenage boy painted of Revolutionary War soldiers bleeding on battlefields).

Mr. Keno bounced from topic to topic as he scrambled around the piles, pointing out some modernist furniture from his own collection; he may eventually hold a separate auction for those egg-shaped or rectilinear tables and chairs by Gerrit Rietveld, Carlo Mollino and Marc Newson. He spoke bluntly about market trends, but then quickly qualified his remarks so that his words in print would sound upbeat and not offend any dealer, auctioneer or collector.

After explaining that his auctions will offer fresh-to-market material rather than his inventory, “and that is refreshing,” he immediately added, “I don’t want to imply that everyone else doesn’t do that refreshing thing.” When asked why he is holding the sale in Connecticut, he mentioned the antiques stores in downtown Stamford that could use some publicity and his suburban customers’ possible distaste for Manhattan hotel and parking rates, but then added, “Can you say that without ... ,” and trailed off. “I love New York,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody. My curse is that I want to make everybody happy. It’s a curse.”

The blond, wiry dealer, 52, who founded the store in 1986 after a stint at Christie’s, has become a public figure with his twin brother, Leslie, the director of American furniture and decorative arts at Sotheby’s. They have been profiled in New York and People magazines, published a memoir and appeared in 14 seasons of “Roadshow.” (Sometimes one can be spotted chatting up visitors in the background while the other is appraising on camera.) For two decades, until this year, Leigh Keno also rented a booth in January at the entrance to the Winter Antiques Show in Manhattan, which opens on Friday. Since he announced his auction business last summer, he said: “I’m so energized, I feel like I’m 28 again. I loved being a dealer, but it was time for me personally for a new challenge.”

But what about Americana’s falling prices, which have been widely reported in the trade papers? “It has definitely, you know, gone down in value, but truly great pieces still bring great prices,” he replied. He hopes to help reinvigorate the market by serving as charismatic auctioneer, at a pace of 70 lots an hour. “I whip up the crowd,” he said.

Most lots will have no reserves, and estimates will be so low, he added, that “people will lose sleep the night before.” The prices are meant to attract “the young collector,” he said, and encourage older consignors to approach him with housefuls of high-end and middling material. “We’ll just broom-clean,” he said. “We want to be full service.”

His competitors have been sending messages welcoming him to the scene, he said. “There’s enough merchandise, enough property out there, for everyone to be happy.”

Colin Stair, who runs Stair Galleries, an auction house in Hudson, N.Y., is one competitor who has congratulated Mr. Keno. The trade, Mr. Stair said, will monitor the new venture’s progress and turn out for the Stamford event. “I’ve rearranged my May sales so I can go check it out in person,” Mr. Stair said. But he would caution anyone who, like Mr. Keno, starts an auction house in midcareer, maneuvering hundreds of objects through hotels-turned-salerooms at razor-thin profit margins. “You have to be prepared for an initial bloodletting until you catch on,” Mr. Stair said."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Major Prices For Major Art Expected

Wall Street Journal:1/22/10
"Set to Fetch a Grand Price"

The first major European auctions of the year are turning up a number of heavyweight offerings.

For the first time in Sotheby's London Impressionist and modern art auctions (Feb. 3-4), three works will be offered that are each estimated at more than £10 million.
[Gustav Klimt's 'Church in Cassone-Landscape with Cypresses)' (1913) is estimated at £12 million-£18 million.] Courtesy of Sotheby's

Gustav Klimt's 'Church in Cassone-Landscape with Cypresses)' (1913) is estimated at £12 million-£18 million.

Gustav Klimt's "Church in Cassone-Landscape with Cypresses" (1913), a jewel-like work inspired during a summer trip to Lake Garda with his muse and lover, the fashion designer Emilie Flöge, is estimated at £12 million - £18 million. The painting comes from the collection of Viktor and Paula Zuckerkandl, patrons of the arts in Vienna in the early 20th century. The painting was inherited by Viktor's sister Amalie Redlich, who was deported to Lodz by the Nazis in 1941. After the war, the Lake Garda landscape resurfaced in a European family collection that acquired the painting in good faith. The family reached a deal with a Zuckerkandl heir to offer the painting at auction.

Also estimated at £12 million- £18 million is Alberto Giacometti's monumental, 183 centimeter-high sculpture "L'Homme qui marche 1" (1960), a lone and haunted man walking which has become one of the most iconic images of modern art, creating "both a humble image of an ordinary man, and a potent symbol of humanity," according to Sotheby's. The vendor, Commerzbank, acquired the sculpture when it took over Dresdner Bank, which had a substantial art collection.

Paul Cezanne's meticulously composed "Pichet et fruits sur une table" (1893-94), a still-life with succulent fruits, is expected to fetch £10 million - £15 million.

Meanwhile, a striking portrait at Christie's Impressionist and modern art sales in London (Feb. 2-3) will be Kees van Dongen's "La Gitane" (circa 1910-11) a sensual Spanish gypsy in blazing color (estimated at £5.5 million - £7.5 million). The painting is being offered at auction for the first time, as is Natalia Gontcharova's "Espagnole" (circa 1916), a dramatic painting fusing Cubist forms with the costume of a Spanish dancer (estimate: £4 million-£6 million).

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Perfect Story To Start The Weekend

I always thought this might be true. Have a great weekend all.

Alcohol's Neolithic Origins
Brewing Up a Civilization

Speigel Online International:
By Frank Thadeusz

Did our Neolithic ancestors turn to agriculture so that they could be sure of a tipple? US Archaeologist Patrick McGovern thinks so. The expert on identifying traces of alcohol in prehistoric sites reckons the thirst for a brew was enough of an incentive to start growing crops.

It turns out the fall of man probably didn't begin with an apple. More likely, it was a handful of mushy figs that first led humankind astray.

Here is how the story likely began -- a prehistoric human picked up some dropped fruit from the ground and popped it unsuspectingly into his or her mouth. The first effect was nothing more than an agreeably bittersweet flavor spreading across the palate. But as alcohol entered the bloodstream, the brain started sending out a new message -- whatever that was, I want more of it! Full story here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Well Appointed Room Auction At Doyles

From Doyle Auction House, "The well-appointed room is attractively equipped, artfully arranged and composed with a level of sophistication and comfort. Grand without being ostentatious, the well-appointed room is comprised of edited pieces that have history and purpose and that promote conversation and further study. Edith Wharton used the phrase often when she wrote about the stylish homes where her characters resided. The well-appointed drawing rooms in Wharton's novels were stylishly decorated and consisted of quality pieces that were timeless and evocative of a bygone era.

The Well-Appointed Room auction at Doyle New York on January 27, 2010 comprises almost 200 lots of furniture and decorations from Jonathan Burden, LLC, and John J. Gredler Works of Art, and globes and other articles from George Glazer Gallery. Through the vision of acclaimed interior designer Jeffrey Bilhuber, these renowned taste-makers create their own version of today’s Well-Appointed Room. The public is invited to the exhibition will be on view from Saturday, January 23 through Tuesday, January 26. Doyle is located at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan. "

There are over 400 lots in this auction and many pieces that caught my eye. I do so appreciate a well appointed room where your eye just moves all around the room admiring well thought out acquired items. I could only bring a few treasures for your viewing here. Some are kinda pricey but they'd look good in any home. Take a look. You can view the entire catalogue here.

Edwardian Mahogany Partner's Desk
The rectangular leather inset top with opposing ratchet bookstands, above three long drawers, raised on square tapering legs ending in casters. Height 30 inches (76.2 cm), width 70 inches (1.78 m), depth 39 1/4 inches (99.7 cm).
Estimate $3,000-5,000

Grand Tour Plaster Intaglio Collection
19th Century
Fitted in 7 half leather bound double sided book-form cases, approximately 313 intaglios. Height of each volume 9 7/8 inches (25 cm), width 6 1/4 inches (15.9 cm).
Estimate $4,000-6,000

French Oak Library Steps
18th Century
Height 8 feet 1 inch (2.46 m).
Estimate $3,000-4,000

Group of Three Architectural Spiral Staircases
Each of various form. Height of tallest 22 1/4 inches (56.5 cm).
Estimate $800-1,200

Chinese Export Tole Painted Canister Lamp
19th Century
Decorated with chinoiserie figures on a red ground. Height 16 inches (40.6 cm).
Estimate $600-900

Irish Regency Style Partial Ebonized Mahogany Console
The rectangular line inlaid top with a rope carved edge, raised on lion carved monopodia supports ending in paw feet. Height 35 1/2 inches (90.2 cm), 7 feet 9 1/2 inches (2.37 m), depth 24 inches (61 cm).
Estimate $4,000-6,000

Pair of Worcester Blue and White Porcelain Vases
Circa 1770
Each of gu form, painted on each side with a chinoiserie figure surrounded by a floral and diaper ground, crescent mark in blue. Height 7 7/8 inches (19.5 cm).
Estimate $1,500-2,500. Yes, I'd make them into lamps. Sorry, but I would.

Provincial George II Oak Cellaret
Formed as a diminutive commode, with a hinged top above three false drawer fronts, raised on bracket feet. Height 18 3/4 inches (47.6 cm), width 18 1/2 inches (47 cm), depth 17 inches (43.2 cm).
Estimate $600-800

Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica Porcelain Cachepot
Painted with flowering botanical specimen within a gilt border, botanical identification mark, standard factory mark and number 20.3519. Height 6 3/4 inches (17.1 cm).
Estimate $600-900

George III Mahogany Writing Desk
Late 18th century
The rectangular leather inset writing surface with three-quarter gallery, above two drawers, raised on square tapering legs ending in casters. Height 29 1/2 inches (74.9 cm), width 37 inches (94 cm), depth 22 1/2 inches (57.2 cm).
Estimate $1,500-2,500

Pair of Chinese Export Porcelain Cranes
19th Century
Each molded standing on a stump. Height 15 1/2 inches (39.4 cm).
Estimate $2,000-3,000

Directoire Brass Bound Mahogany Fold-Over Game Table
Early 19th century
The elliptical hinged top raised on circular tapering legs ending in casters. Height 29 1/2 inches (74.9 cm), width 53 inches (1.35 m), depth 26 1/2 inches (67.3 cm).
Estimate $1,500-2,500

Restauration Gilt-Bronze Mounted Mahogany Library Table
In the manner of Jacob Desmalter, circa 1820
The dished rectangular top above a plain frieze with drawers at each end, raised on curule-form supports cast with rosettes and carved with anthemion ending in casters. Height 28 3/4 inches (73 cm), width 42 1/2 inches (1.08 m), depth 21 1/4 inches (54 cm).
Estimate $3,000-5,000

Monday, January 18, 2010

Motorcycle Diaries Part One

'The Find of the Decade' - One of the First Ever Motorbikes up for Auction at Bonhams.

"Bonhams is delighted to feature the ultimate motorcycle 'Barn Find' at The International Classic MotorCycle Show, Stafford on 25th April 2010.

Bonhams is privileged to announce the sale of an original circa 1895 Hildebrand & Wolfmuller motorcycle at the first of its two annual Stafford auctions. Manufactured in Munich, Germany, the Hildebrand & Wolfmuller is of the utmost historical significance as the first powered two-wheeler to enter series production, and is the first such vehicle to which the name 'motorcycle' (motorrad in German) was ever applied." Full story from

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Isn't It Nice He Dressed For The Occasion

And I wonder why they call us ugly Americans.

BELGRADE (AP).- Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Depp was honored Wednesday with a life-size statue in Serbia. The Pirates of the Caribbean star had a statue in his image unveiled to him by renowned Serbian director Emir Kusturica during an annual film festival — called Kustendorf — held in a mountain village in southwestern Serbia. Depp met with Serbian President Boris Tadic upon his arrival on Tuesday. He was then flown by helicopter to the mountaintop village constructed by Kusturica for one of his movies. Kusturica, a two-time Cannes Film Festival winner, said he plans to make a movie with Depp paying legendary Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. "Depp will be my guest for three days," Kusturica said. "He will lead several workshops for participants of the festival, drink wine, watch films and visit some locations where he will shoot a film about Pancho Villa."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Antiques Show Washington DC

Brrr it was a such a cold weekend for us DC'ers and yet it made the perfect weather to attend the Winter Antiques Show here in town for the weekend.

Thoughts about the show.
1. It looked very nice and I think the use of the Katzen Center at American University works well.

2. The staff, volunteers and exhibitors couldn't have been more professional and nice.

3. For 99 percent of the pieces that caught my eye the prices meant that this was simply an exhibition and I can't believe that much business was conducted.

In this, the third dark winter of our recessionary times the show has to try new exhibitors and a broader range of goods to attract a wider audience. I simply can't see how anyone can make a living selling these goods at such high prices.

That said, I enjoyed myself and met many interesting people. Lets take a look at what caught my eye but won't be buying.

English Chinoiseri Cabinet, Circa 1700. Priced at $65,000.00. From G. Sargeant Antiques of Woodbury, CT.

Directoire Bouilotte Lamp. $10,500.00. A tad out of range ya think. G. Sargeant Antiques

19th Century French metal clock. It had to be 30 inches in diameter and from a decorative look, it was great looking. At $4,500.00 it was expensive bit not terrible. From the Finnegan Gallery of Chicago, IL.

Early 20th Century French Industrial Metal Cart. It does move but must weigh a ton. Perfect of a gourmet's kitchen and at $5,500.00 not exhorbitant for such a singular piece. Also form the Finnegan Gallery.

Tiger Maple end table, circa 1800, American, priced at $4,900.00. Its American so its expensive. From SAJE Americana of Short Hills, NJ.

19th Century Cast Iron Newfoundlands. Huge and fabulous and $34,000.00. From an estate in Rhinebeck, NY. Sold by Roberto Freitas, Stonington, CT.

Gustavian Sleeping Bench. 18th Century and it has a pull out bench below the seat, sorta of a an old fashioned trundle. $10,000.00. Dawn Hill Antiques, New Preston, Ct.

Regency 3 tier clothes tree. George Subkoff Antiques. $7,500.00. I'd need to buy better pants!

Biedermeier Walnut Armchair, circa 1830. Priced at $3,200.00. Not crazy. From Savenkov Gallery, Midlothian, Va.

Tigers, circa 1880. Asking price $9,500.00. Grrroowwwow! From Gemini Antiques, Lebanon, NJ.

A Yachtsman's Desk. English late 19th century, $14,500.00. Overboard!! From Antique American Wicker of Nashua, NH.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another Sad Loss From The Great Recession

One of my earliest culinary New York City memories is closing its doors, according to the New York Post and it makes me sad that this landmark seems to be another victim of this endless recession and union bickering, which means in the end, people out of work.

I don't think I was yet ten when I was taken for the first time to Gino's Restaurant on the UES just across the street from Bloomingdale's (the real one). I'll never forget seeing those dancing Zebras against the tomato red wallpaper. Me, "I love a good chicken parm." Grazie Gino's.

New York Post: "A legendary Upper East Side Italian restaurant may wind up sleeping with the fishes as a bad economy and a union fight threaten to drive it out of business.

Gino, a 64-year-old Manhattan red-sauce staple where the likes of Frank Sinatra once dined, is slated to close on Jan. 31, said Marco Dell'Aguzzo, the head of the eatery's union.

"We're very sad; we're like a family," said the 45-year-old waiter. "We've all been working for very many years."

Reports surfaced this month that the troubled Gino would be saved as a white-knight buyer rode in to scoop up the joint, famous for its zebra wallpaper and old-school dishes like veal parmigiana and chicken cacciatore.
BITTER TASTE: Waiter Marco Dell'Aguzzo blames the impending closure on the economy and a union contract fight.

But Dell'Aguzzo told The Post this week a buyer has not materialized and that the Lexington Avenue eatery will not survive.

Co-owner Salvatore Doria told The Post he couldn't talk about details of the restaurant's problems.

"In a few weeks, we'll know exactly what's the story," he said. "The place is known worldwide. It's a piece of Manhattan. The problem is the economy."

Dell'Aguzzo believes the owners of Gino floated the notion of a buyer so workers would stay on for one last Christmas season before the inevitable closing.

The union and management have been fighting since October, when the workers' contract expired and they balked at a request to pay half their health insurance and pension in a new pact.

Dell'Aguzzo said he was told that because of the economy, the owners wanted to sell but couldn't because of the labor contract.

News that the restaurant is on its deathbed left longtime patrons distraught.

"There's a general sadness and disbelief; it's a great tragedy," said Allen Falcona, 77, a patron since 1957.

"It will have a huge effect upon a lot of customers, who come daily and sometimes twice a day."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Second City $100 - $200 Dollar Estimate Auction

I know the holidays are over and who wants to spend any money, but a deal is a deal. I just went through Susanins Auction catalogue for their January 16th sale and think I found some great finds. Everything posted below except the glass coffee tables are estimated at between $100-$200 dollars. Most are decorative items and add so much to a room or end table. Lets take a look. Full catalogue here.


Height: 6.5"


19th centruy

In a figural and floral motif
46" x 35"

Not wired for electricity
H: 37" W: 12" D: 7"



H: 46" W: 30" D: 2"


Tray is 19th century
H:27" W:40" D:31`"

H:19" W:51" D:31"

H:19" W:39" D:39"

H: 35" W: 34.5" D: 19"

H: 18" W: 53.75" D: 30"