Published: March 1, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy A.B. Levy’s
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – During the high season in Palm Beach – Halloween through Easter – A.B. Levy’s Palm Beach schedules sales more frequently to capitalize on out-of-state residents. In the firm’s first sale of 2021, the 155-lot “Eclectic Elegance Jewelry, Art and Antiques” auction that closed February 18 was posted online for three weeks to give people ample time to preview. Three online platforms carried the sale live but bidders could leave absentee bids or bid over the phone. The auction house’s owner, Albert Levy, reported that while his firm has seen an uptick in buyers since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, this sale welcomed fewer new buyers than in previous auctions.
“We don’t see much Tiffany; you see lamps more frequently than the chandeliers and they get a lot of attention when we do. All of the underbidders on that were online,” Levy said of a circa 1910 Tiffany Studios “curtain border” leaded glass and bronze chandelier that hailed from a local private collection. The auction catalog identified this as having been sold at Christie’s for $57,600; according to Levy, the chandelier’s seller had acquired it from the person who bought it at Christie’s around 2006. Levy’s sold it to a local collector who had left an absentee bid on the piece; it saw an improvement in the value and realized $72,000, the highest price in the sale.
The sale also included an exhibition quality Tiffany Favrile glass “Aquamarine” vase by Louis Comfort Tiffany that had been with the Minna Rosenblatt Gallery and offered at Christie’s in 2003, when it brought $62,140. The vase had been published in two books on Tiffany glass and had a sizeable estimate but ultimately it passed and is still available. A necessaire fitted into a piano-form music box had sterling silver implements all stamped Tiffany and brought $960, while a set of six Mintons cobalt blue and parcel-gilt porcelain dinner plate that had retailed at Tiffany made $840 and a Mintons parcel-gilt and cranberry porcelain dessert service for six, which had also retailed at Tiffany’s, realized $480.
Jewelry figured prominently among the sale’s top ten lots, largely going to local buyers. Bringing $18,000 and the second highest price in the sale was a pair of emerald and diamond earrings that featured a pear-shaped emerald surrounded by circular-cut diamonds and mounted in 18K white gold. The pair were accompanied by a GIA report and were bought by a Palm Beach buyer. Also staying local was a pair of diamond earrings that featured 6.15 carats of diamonds that sparkled to the tune of $9,000. A bangle bracelet set with 13 oval-cut yellow diamonds weighing a total of 1.54 carats sold within its estimate to bring $8,400 from a Florida buyer. An online buyer paid $6,000 for a ring with a 4.14-carat oval shaped sapphire mounted in platinum with 1.40 carats of diamonds that was accompanied by a GIA certificate. Sapphires seemed to be a popular stone among bidders, with a similar price of $6,000 realized for an unheated sapphire, diamond and platinum ring set with a 4.07-carat cushion-cut sapphire; it also came with a GIA certificate, as did a sapphire and diamond pendant necklace mounted in 18K white gold that made $5,400.
“It is hard to find Chinese ceramics of that quality but it was still the biggest surprise in the sale,” Levy said, pointing out a small but choice selection of Chinese ceramics, all of which were from a Southern California collection. All the lots were acquired by two Chinese buyers, both bidding online and both who had never bought at Levy’s previously. The top price realized for a work in the collection was $12,000 for a Guan-type arrow-handled Chinese vase of archaistic “hu” form with gray crackled glaze that measured just 6-7/8 inches tall. A Junyao purple-splashed bowl that was cataloged as probably Song dynasty brought $2,700, and a Chinese oxblood red glazed stem bowl with an underglaze six-character Qianlong seal mark finished at $1,800. A Chinese famille rose saucer dish made $1,440, just ahead of a Chinese Qingbai lobed white-glazed bowl that closed at $1,200. Failing to find a buyer was a carved Chinese Dingyao bowl.
Other Chinese works of art from other sellers include a blue and white Ming-style porcelain moonflask, attributed to the Qing dynasty and Yongzheng period that rose to $2,400 and a pair of ink and color on paper portraits of a Ming dynasty emperor and empress that surpassed their expectations to bring $1,800.
“That was from a very good collection; there’s more to come,” Levy said of a Pablo Picasso Terre de faïence dish in the “Corrida Verte” pattern that bore the Empreinte Originale de Picasso and Madoura stamps and was from an edition of 500. It sold within estimate, to a local buyer, for $9,000.
Fine art in the sale performed well, if largely to expectations. Topping the category was Antonio Rocchetti Torres’ “A Beauty with Flowers,” which was done in oil on canvas. Estimated at $6/9,000, it saw many suitors, closing to an international buyer for the high estimate. “Le Moyens d’Existence: Poire et Rose,” a lithograph in colors by Rene Magritte, also sold for its high estimate – $1,800 – to a new buyer bidding online on Levy’s bidding platform. Provenance to London’s New Art Centre may have helped “Eight Sculptural Ideas, Girl Writing” by Henry Moore (English, 1898-1986) realize $1,200. The inscribed artist’s proof lithograph was signed in pencil and dated 1973. A similarly contemporary work – Jim Dine’s screenprint in colors from 1965 titled “Throat, from Pop Artist’s Volume II” was from a local estate and sold within estimate, for $3,600.
Formal furniture and decorative arts performed surprisingly well. A private collector in Boca Raton, Fla., paid $7,200 for a pair of bronze figural six-light candelabra and $6,600 for a Louis XVI-style ormolu-mounted vitrine chest by French ebeniste Paul Sormani that had a pink marble top. A buyer in France paid $3,480 for a Restauration-style gilt-bronze mounted malachite clock, and a Louis XV-style carved giltwood console sold to a buyer in the United States but outside of Florida, for $2,880. Of particular surprise to Levy was the $2,400 result achieved by a Biedermeier birch and ebony chest of drawers.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house.
A.B. Levy’s next sale is scheduled for March 28.
A.B. Levy’s is at 5200 South Dixie Highway. For additional information, 561-835-9139 or www.ablevys.com.
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