Published: September 27, 2011
Manitou Galleries’ auction in Santa Fe is in the history books now with the sale of the largest and key Birger Sandzen works sold at auction, shattering the record for a work by this artist by nearly $150,000. At the August 13‱4 sale, “Summer In the Mountains,” 1923, a 60-by-80-inch oil on canvas, extracted a round of applause and standing ovation when it sold for $632,500, a new world record for a Sandzen work at auction.
The Sandzen works, in addition to several other artists’ works and a Pueblo pottery collection from pre-1904 of more than 100 pieces, were deaccessions from Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan. All the works had been purchased by Bethany or given with the express intent to someday be sold. Donor wishes were strictly adhered to, and ultimately made this record-setting sale possible.
Manitou Galleries owner Bob Nelson, a Bethany alumnus, said, “It was a great honor to be chosen by Bethany College to represent them in the sale of these important works. The prices garnered for the Pueblo pottery, as well as for the artwork, exceeded all expectations in the highly competitive art and collectible worlds.
“Of the top ten selling pieces in the nearly $2.7-million sale, seven of them were by Birger Sandzen, which is extraordinary, yet not unexpected, due to the high quality of the items offered. My staff and I feel privileged to have made history, yet paved a way for the future, all at the same time. Bethany awards more than $6 million each year in scholarships, and when we present them with a check for nearly $1.15 million, it will greatly enhance and fulfill their mission toward quality education.”
The auction featured 574 lots during the two-day sale and experienced approximately a 13 percent “no-sale” rate, which is average in the current auction environment. With approximately 500 bidders/buyers participating in person, over the Internet and via phone and absentee bids, “There was something for everyone,” according to James Nelson, Bob’s son and “right-hand man” as auction coordinator. Other art highlights included a Maynard Dixon (1875‱946) oil titled “The Monument,” selling for $525,000 and a Robert Lougheed painting going for more than $8,000.
Also known for featuring choice Native American material, the auction also included a 1930s Teec Nos Pos weaving, selling for $9,200 and a 1910 transitional weaving, going for more than $6,000. A rare US Indian Police shotgun from 1889 fetched $6,325, while a pair of Yankton Sioux moccasins and leggings brought $8,050, and a pair of Kiowa child’s moccasins commanded $7,475.
A seldom-found Crow Keyhole horse face ornament brought $6,900, and a Sioux Elk Dreamer’s Society man’s vest fetched $10,925. In addition, an 1860s Santee Sioux beaded bandolier bag garnered a surprise record price of $31,050. Pottery from Bethany College was very strong overall. An Acoma four-color jar dating pre-1900 commanded $7,475, and a Zuni figural square vessel fetched nearly $5,000.
“We are encouraged by the strength of this sale,” added Nelson, who has been in the art, collectibles and auction business for more than 50 years. “Quality offerings bring top prices, even in the toughest economic environment, and this has been one of the toughest I’ve seen. We certainly feel that there is an encouraging upturn in the market for Western art and Native American items, which indicates that collectors and investors are looking for alternatives, which we are pleased to offer.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For more information, www.auctioninsantafe.com or 307-635-0019.
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