Published: October 8, 2019
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Carlsen Gallery
FREEHOLD, N.Y. – Carlsen Galleries has been conducting auctions for 36 years but the anniversary sales – as the one they had on September 22 – commemorate ones they have been having at their gallery, which they have had now for 28 years. Despite their longevity, the gallery still attracts new clients. “It seems like there are always a few new bidders, people are still discovering us. We had people coming up to the desk saying, ‘we never knew you existed, but we will be back,'” said Russ Carlsen, speaking by phone a few days after the sale.
A considerable portion of the best lots in the sale were sourced from two New York City estates and a private collection of fine art from Cooperstown, N.Y., with smaller consignments rounding out the sale. Clocking just short of 400 lots, all but 28 lots sold at the sale for an impressive 93 percent sell through rate and totaling in excess of $250,000. Carlsen said, “the sale was very well covered and very well received. We had lots of phone activity and lots of internet activity. We gave out about 80 paddles to in-house bidders. Before the days of the internet, we used to give out 250, those days are over. We had more than 600 on the internet. The phones were busy all day long.” When asked how the bidding shook out, Carlsen said that internet buyers bought about 30-35 percent of the sale with phone bidders winning about 40 percent of the sale. “We get quite a lot of absentee bidder action,” he said.
The sale kicked off with a 1995 Jaguar XJ6 sedan with 59,000 original miles was from a local home and had always been garaged and had never been in an accident; it sold for $5,557 to a buyer in the room. “It was in super condition,” Carlsen said, “I consider that a real buy.”
Leading the sale, and providing perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, was a First to Second Century Roman marble figure standing 25½ inches that brought $29,250 against an estimate of $1/3,000. It was purchased by a European buyer on the phone who competed against interest from other bidders in both the United States and Europe. “During the week of the sale, the executrix of the estate found the original receipt from the 1960s, when it had been purchased from a Parisian dealer. That added a tremendous amount of interest,” Carlsen said, adding, “the consignor is thrilled.”
The estate from New York City’s Upper East Side was the source for two pieces of formal American furniture that were among the top ten lots of the sale and Carlsen confirmed that both were bought by the same buyer, a private collector bidding on the telephone. A circa 1805 mahogany settee attributed to the shop of New York cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe, that had provenance to both the New York City firm of Bernard & S. Dean Levy and Christie’s brought $8,190. A carved post tester bed, also attributed to Duncan Phyfe, had previously been handled by the firm of Israel Sack and more than tripled expectations to bring $7,020. “The consignor had kept the receipts, so we knew what they had paid for things,” Carlsen said. “They had paid $23,000 for the sofa and $21,000 for the bed.”
Bringing just shy of the low estimate was a large Nineteenth Century Bidjar carpet measuring 11 feet 5 inches by 19 feet 2 inches. It sold to a private collector with a large home in the upper Hudson Valley, who left an absentee bid and won it for $11,700, which was the second highest price of the sale.
Jewelry, a perennial favorite with buyers, did well, with third-place honors going to a 2.42-carat round-cut diamond solitaire ring with GIA clarity VVS2 and color K. It nearly hit the high estimate, bringing $11,115 against an estimate of $8/12,000. It was bought by a trade buyer. Another diamond ring, with a 2.10-carat emerald cut stone with I color and SI 1 clarity, hit the low estimate selling for $7,020. “She loved it for herself,” was Carlsen’s comment about an 18K gold square link tank bracelet that sold to a couple in the room for $4,797.
In a tease of what is to come, a Gorham seven-piece coin and sterling tea and coffee service that included its original mahogany case was an initial offering from a mansion in Loudonville, N.Y. It sold to a phone bidder for $7,605, the highest silver price in the sale. Carlsen said that the rest of the contents of the house – which he described as “loaded” – would be sold in the firm’s next sale.
“If people wanted it, you had a dogfight,” said Carlsen, referring to a lot of three pieces of S. Kirk & Sons sterling silver that featured a pitcher and two goblets that made $3,217. “The pitcher was what people wanted.”
Decorative arts and jewelry were the categories taking up most of the top ten lots, but lots of sculpture and paintings also did well. Heading that category was a bronze kangaroo sculpture by Katherine Weems (American, 1899-1989) that had been cast in the Roman Bronze Works of New York City. It topped its high estimate to bring $5,557. The piece was from a large collection of paintings and sculpture amassed over 40 years by a collector in Cooperstown, N.Y.
A carved wooden sculpture cataloged as “in the manner of William Zorach” received early interest. “It was unsigned, but we feel very confident that it was a Zorach.” Carlsen said he had solicited the opinion of two respected authorities on Zorach and had received conflicting opinions. It sold to an out-of-state trade buyer for $3,217.
The highest selling painting in the sale was a Hiro Yamagata (Japanese American, b 1948) titled “Café Chocola,” that brought $4,680, just shy of its low estimate. It sold to a local collector who prevailed over two Asian clients bidding in the room.
A Nineteenth Century bronze incense burner with figural dragon finial had sold in Carlsen’s previous sale for $1,638 but the buyer had never paid for it. The firm reoffered it for the estimate it had in the first sale ($200/400), and it brought more this time, $2,106, from an internet bid.
Cast iron furniture outperformed expectations, with a pair of late Nineteenth Century cast iron Gothic benches bringing $3,510 ($1/2,000); a garden bench by Peter Timmes of Brooklyn, N.Y., nearly tripled presale expectations at $2,340 ($800-$1,200) and a pair of late Nineteenth Century cast iron garden urns on bases priced at $300/600 made $468.
Carlsen Gallery’s next sale will take place in late November.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.carlsengallery.com or 518-634-2466.
November 29, 2022
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