Published: December 18, 2018
Three bidders were definitely not standing still as they all vied for the only opportunity to own “A young man standing,” by Lucas van Leyden. In fact, they raced far ahead of the $1.9 million estimate to finish at more than $14 million. Another lucky bidder scored big with a final offer of $125,000 for Glenn Gould’s extensively annotated sheet music “Goldberg Variations,” a world auction record for this artist’s manuscripts. Also notable was the sale of a pear-shaped emerald that came in at 4.61 carats and left the auction house for $177,000. These and more can be perused and pondered-upon in this week’s “Across The Block.”
BELLOWS FALLS, VT. – Leading the sale at Sharon Boccelli and Company Auctioneers on October 24 was a Midcentury Modern vase by Axel Salto for Royal Copenhagen. Despite a small chip on its base that supported a conservative estimate of $3/5,000, the piece, which came from an Amherst, Mass., collection, garnered early interest. After heated bidding, it finally closed at $51,750 to a buyer bidding on the phone. For information, www.sbauctioneers.com or 802-460-1190.
FREEHOLD, N.Y. – A collection of more than two dozen lots of first and second period Belleek porcelain amassed in the 1980s by a doctor in Windham, N.Y., and Long Island crossed the block at Carlsen Galleries on December 2. Leading the group was a first period monumental double-spouted Chinese teaware pot and stand with gilded elements. Estimated at $1/2,000, it finished at $10,530, selling to an out-of-state buyer bidding on the phone. For information, 518-634-2466 or www.carlsengallery.com.
LONDON – Christie’s sale of Old Masters/New Scholars: Works of Art to Benefit Rugby School on December 4 realized a total of $18,818,128, far exceeding all expectations. The star of the sale, Lucas van Leyden’s rare drawing, “A young man standing,” sparked fierce competition among three bidders, resulting in it selling for $14,607,330, way beyond its estimate of $1.9 million. The result not only sets a new world record price for the artist at auction, it makes van Leyden only the second Old Master – joining Raphael – with a drawing selling for more than $12 million. For information, +44 20 7839 9060 or www.christies.com.
NEW YORK CITY – The December 5 sale of books and manuscripts at Bonhams was led by Glenn Gould’s (1932-1982) extensively annotated copy of his recording for the second “Goldberg Variations,” which achieved $125,000, a world auction record for a Glenn Gould manuscript. Appearing on the market for the first time, this work is one of the most significant and well-known interpretations in classical music. The pages offer an important window into Gould’s famous final recording, as he notes in minutiae the timings of various takes and levels, while sometimes emphasizing pauses, microphone placements, etc. For information, 212-644-9001 or www.bonhams.com.
NEW YORK CITY – At the same December 5 books and manuscripts sale at Bonhams, Hilary Knight’s original Plaza Hotel portrait of Eloise achieved $100,000. Once lost and now rediscovered, this portrait captures the irrepressible spirit of one of the most influential children’s book characters in history. Toting a history as lively as its inspiration, this portrait was painted as a birthday gift by Knight for Eloise co-creator Kay Thompson in 1956, on the eve of Kay’s appearance on Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person on CBS, where she proudly displayed the painting to guest host Jerry Lewis. Shortly thereafter, she loaned the work to the Plaza Hotel where it hung ceremoniously in the lobby as an homage to their most famous (imaginary) resident. However, on the night of a Junior League Ball at the Plaza, November 1960, it disappeared. Some years later, Knight received a call: “The painting had been found in a dumpster, frameless.” Once identified as the missing artwork, it was returned to Knight.
BOSTON – A pear-shaped emerald weighing 4.61 carats made quick work of its $5/7,000 estimate in Skinner’s jewelry auction on December 4 when it finished at $177,000. Accompanied by AGL document no. 1096755, dated November 6, 2018, stating the origin of the stone is Colombia with no evidence of enhancement, the gem obviously will enhance the collection of its buyer. For information, www.skinnertinc.com or 617-350-5400.
GOFFSTOWN, N.H. – In its annual online-only holiday auction. Jones & Horan presented a diverse lineup of choice timepieces with a Franck Muller Master Banker Havana wristwatch commanding $3,800. Befitting its intended wearer, the watch displayed three time zones, was housed in an 18K rose gold case and was fitted with a crocodile strap with 18K rose gold buckle. The lot was accompanied by inner and outer boxes and original paperwork. Appropriately, the inner box is shaped like a large cigar. The firm charges no buyer’s premium or sales tax, so the hammer price is the final price. For information, 603-623-5314 or www.jones-horan.com.
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA – Peter Norton is a retired California Tech giant and art collector who, beginning in 1988, commissions an artist represented in his own collection to create a multiple edition work, which he then sends across the globe to friends, business associates, and others involved in the visual arts. Collectively, these gifts are known as The Peter Norton Christmas Project and are intended to foster engagement with the contemporary art world. Takashi Murakami’s “Mr Wink” was the offering in 2000. In Waddington’s online sale, December 1-6, “Mr Wink” atop his Cosmo Ball of molded plastic with mini compact disc and Christmas card, 10¼ inches high, rolled up to a $2,250 winning bid. For information, 1-877-504-5700 or www.waddingtons.ca.
CHESTER, N.Y. – A surprise at William Jenack’s December 9 sale was a Hungarian School Twentieth Century oil on canvas, “The Blue Bird,” bearing the signature of Kadar Bela. The 27½-by-21½-inch painting was estimated $300/500 and flew to $3,658. For information, www.jenack.com or 845-469-9095.
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