Published: December 11, 2018
If someone offered to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, chances are very good that you wouldn’t take them seriously. But what if someone offered to sell you a piece of the Eiffel Tower? That’s what happened at Artcurial in November, and the final sale for the 14-foot-high section of the original staircase sold for three times its initial estimate. This week’s ‘Across The Block’ is packed with more interesting lots — like Hugh Hefner’s typewriter from his college days; maybe he drafted his first outline for Playboy. And you’re going to want to check out Bonham’s American Art Sale, which came away with two world auction records. Read on!
PARIS – A piece of the original spiral staircase from the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s most famous attraction, sold for $192,660 at Artcurial on November 27, realizing three times the initial estimate. The successful bidder was an unidentified collector from the Middle East. The section of the 129-year-old iron landmark is 14 feet high and weighs nearly 2,000 pounds. Comprising about 25 steps, the fragment came out of a private collection in Canada and had once connected the top two floors of the Eiffel Tower. It is one of 24 sections that were cut out in 1983 following the installation of an elevator between the two floors. For information, www.arcurial.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Strong results were realized across all genres, and two world auction records for Thomas Hill and Dawson Dawson-Watson were achieved at Bonhams American art sale on November 19. The top lot of the sale was Theodore Earl Butler’s “Flag Day,” which sold for $552,500. It depicts the Fourth Liberty Loan parade in New York City, which was led by President Woodrow Wilson in October 1918, as the end of the war approached. The large-scale composition focuses on the striking flags of the Allies soaring down Fifth Avenue that were interspersed with dazzling red Liberty Loan banners. Hill’s “Hudson River Valley from the Catskill Mountain House” brought a record $372,500, and “Harvest Time,” 1891, by Dawson-Watson, sold for $125,000, a world auction record for the artist. For information, 212-644-9001 or www.bonhams.com.
NORTHFIELD, MASS. – Among the top lots at Northfield Auctions on November 19 was a 1920 etching by Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935) titled “Lion Gardiner’s House, Easthampton,” which achieved $2,950. Hassam, with Mary Cassatt and John Henry Twachtman, was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to American collectors, dealers and museums. For information, www.northfieldauctions.com or 413-498-0221.
DANIA BEACH, FLA. – At Kodner Auction’s November 28 sale, which included an important collection of Amphora pottery, an Amphora Art Nouveau eastern dragons vase by Eduard Stellmacher sold for $12,100. Impressed with the Amphora mark, the 14-3/8-inch-high vase sold well above its auction estimate. For information, www.kodner.com or 954-925-2550.
LOS ANGELES – A Rolex Steve McQueen Explorer II stainless steel, automatic dual time zone bracelet wristwatch made time to beat the competition at Andrew Jones Auctions’ November 18 sale. Consigned from a private Beverly Hills collection, there was a lot of early interest in the watch, which had been estimated at $3/5,000. Competing online absentee bids took the lot up to $13,000, but a bidder in the room ultimately won the watch for $17,500. For information, 213-748-8008 or www.andrewjonesauctions.com.
NEEDHAM, MASS. – A charming and whimsical Nineteenth Century windup toy created a stir when it came to the block on November 17 at O’Leary Antiques Auction. The 17½-inch-long antique goat and carriage, maker unknown but probably German, with a hand-painted tin undercarriage and wheels and a wicker carriage with tufted silk upholstery, sold at $1,305, well beyond what auctioneer Phyllis O’Leary had anticipated. “We had several people who didn’t like it at all – maybe the goat – but others were intrigued and competed to take it home.” For information, 617-734-3967 or www.olearyantiquesauctions.com.
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – One of the top lots in Eldred’s November 29-30 Asian sale was an Eighteenth Century Chinese peach bloom glazed water pot. The diminutive pot, standing just 3 inches tall, was decorated with three incised medallions in the form of two conjoined qilins and had a six-character Kangxi mark on base. Once part of the collection of sugar titan and noted art collector Henry O. Havemeyer (1847-1907), interest pushed it to $12,000, going to an absentee bidder. For information, 508-385-3116 or www.eldreds.com.
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. – Julien’s Auctions closed out its 2018 auction season with property from the collection of Hugh M. Hefner on November 30 and December 1. Hundreds of collectors, fans and friends of the publishing pioneer/Playboy founder from across the globe bid live on the floor, online and on the phone for a chance to take home a piece of the American who launched the ground-breaking men’s lifestyle magazine and built it into an empire by transforming Playboy into an iconic global brand. The top selling item was Hefner’s vintage Underwood Standard Portable typewriter used in college ($300/500) as well as for the publication of the first copy of Playboy magazine that sold for an astounding $162,500. All proceeds of the auction will benefit the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation. For information, 310-836-1818 or www.juliensauctions.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Sotheby’s Geek Week auctions concluded on December 1 with a total of $7.4 million, featuring sales dedicated to space exploration and the history of science and technology. The latter was led by the Nobel Prize, papers and books of theoretical physicist Richard P. Feynman, which were offered across 42 lots. Spanning the full length of his career – from his early days at Los Alamos and Cornell through his final days at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and covering topics such as the atom bomb, QED, nanotechnology and computing – the collection of papers are the only known archive of Feynman manuscripts to exist outside of the archive at Caltech, where he taught for nearly four decades. In the year of the centenary of Feynman’s birth, his 1965 Nobel Prize in physics achieved $975,000. For information, 212-606-7000 or www.sothebys.com.
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