Published: January 17, 2017
Review by Andrea Valluzzo, Photos Courtesy Copake Auction
COPAKE, N.Y. – Copake Auction’s 37th annual New Year’s Day sale offered 760 lots, led by the lifetime Americana collection of Richard Kyllo and the Shaker collection of Linda Cunningham. More than 300 bidders packed into the gallery and over $300,000 worth of absentee bids were recorded before the sale was over.
“Generally I thought it was a good sale, and specifically smalls did really well and fine art, too,” said auctioneer/owner Mike Fallon. Fallon remembers attending his first New Years’ auction here before he bought the business, thinking he would have little competition for a Hudson Valley kas he wanted to buy. He was surprised to see how many came out to a New Year’s Day sale – one of the first such auctions in New England – and after he took over the auction gallery, he continued the tradition. This sale and a specialty bicycle auction in April are the most popular, and well-attended, auctions here.
By 10 am, when the sale started, the gallery was packed with nearly every chair filled, and people were standing up in the back of the galleries and the corridor to the foyer. Still more people participated online and on the phone. After a nice grouping of Oriental rugs, the first painting – and what later proved to be the highest grosser – crossed the block. Usually one has to wait several hours into a sale to see the top lot, but in this case, it was lot 10.
The oil on canvas landscape, “Mountain Lake,” was attributed to Sanford Robinson Gifford from a senior gallerist at Vose Galleries in 1972 after it acquired the work from an upstate New York collection. Attracting much presale interest and debate in Copake’s sale, the unsigned painting with a Vose Galleries label drew much speculation and phone calls from interested bidders to Vose Galleries, prompting Carey L. Vose to call Mike to explain the provenance. At the time Vose bought it, the painting was attributed to Casilear but the gallery reattributed it as a Gifford and sold it as such to the collector who consigned it years later to Copake.
Fallon had the catalog description for the painting amended December 29 to reflect that the painting was “attributed” to Gifford. He noted that the bids had been as high as $11,000 on Invaluable before that change and quickly dropped to $1,000; but on auction day, the painting was back up to where it started. Estimated at $2/3,000, the painting opened low but kept climbing to hammer at $30,000 – $35,100 including buyer’s premium.
The addendum being placed online for the painting does not surprise anyone familiar to auctions here. Fallon has always gone above and beyond in full disclosure regarding the lots he sells, from photographing each lot to show its true condition, including any flaws, to detailed descriptions. “I’d rather deal with it at the beginning than deal with it at the end,” he says, noting this way buyers know in advance just what they are bidding on and nasty surprises are avoided. Bidders have responded to this and Fallon notes he has several European bidders and from across the United States who routinely bid in every one of his auctions with one going so far as to tell him that he did so because the photography ensured his confidence.
Another standout in this sale was a Nineteenth Century Shaker sewing desk from one of the sisters, probably at the Enfield, N.H., community that came out of the Linda Cunningham collection. It sold just above high estimate at $13,455.
The furniture category results were a mixed bag with highs like an Eighteenth Century, New York Chippendale chest in mahogany with ball and claw feet surpassing its conservative $400/600 estimate to achieve $9,067, while an Eighteenth Century Dutch kas was a bargain at $1,744, going out just under high estimate.
For an auction house known for Americana and vanes, however, midcentury has been a hot market for it lately. Last summer, Fallon sold his most expensive piece of furniture with an Isamu Noguchi Rudder table for Herman Miller that attained $29,250. In this sale, a pair of Frank Gehry for Knoll Power Play chairs and matching ottoman made $4,387, more than doubling high estimate.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.copakeauction.com or 518- 329-1142.
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