Published: September 22, 2020
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Hess Fine Art
ST PETERSBURG, FLA. – Titled “Superiority of Consequences,” a painting by Polish Surrealist Rafal Olbinski (b 1943) rose to $22,140 on 19 bids at Hess Fine Art’s sale of vintage jewelry, fine art and photography on September 12. Signed bottom right with a Jule Collins Smith Fine Art Museum at Auburn University label on stretcher verso, the 38-by-35-inch acrylic on canvas painting came with a certificate of authenticity.
Olbinski is a Polish illustrator, painter and educator, living in the United States. He is considered one of the major representatives of the Polish School of Posters, and his work is similar to the work of the famous Belgian surrealist René Magritte.
The sale totaled $141,056 and was approximately 81 percent sold by lot. There were 3,152 total bidders vying for lots and they were apportioned over three online platforms – 860 on LiveAuctioneers; 2,254 on Invaluable and 38 on AuctionZip, according to the auction house.
Hess has been a watch and jewelry expert since 1984, so it is no surprise that the majority of top lots in this most recent sale were in the jewelry and horology categories. The second highest selling item was a rare pair of Tiffany & Co. 32-carat Cherry Fire opal, 2.50 carat weight diamond, extra-long platinum dangle earrings with box that finished at $14,760. The presentation was amazing on these articulated platinum dangles that were more than 3 inches long and featured fiery orange-red, natural cherry opals with E-F color, VVS/2 to VS/I clarity diamonds by Tiffany & Co.
The firm had high hopes for a unique piece of jewelry, a Picasso bronze “Female Figure” pendant with a silver and gold mounting that had been added later by designer David Webb. Featured in the Wolper exhibit, the piece’s center was an original bronze piece from Picasso that was worn as a pendant; it was then taken by designer David Webb and mounted as a brooch with silver and gold. Hess said there were just two of these made, according to the Picasso people, so its rarity begged a significant estimate of $40/75,000. The lot was passed in the sale, although Hess said it is currently negotiating with three people, two within the United States and one internationally for a potential postsale purchase.
A beachcombing theme was evoked by a David Webb platinum 18K gold South Sea pearl and diamond Oyster Shell brooch clip that was bid to $8,856. It was an incredibly large, breathtaking pin weighing 44.0 grams and signed by David Webb. There were approximately 8.50 carat weight of D-F color, VVS/1 to VS/1 clarity diamonds in the piece with a massive, highly lustrous pearl showing hues of pink, green, blue and gold in its orient.
For fanciers of fancy knives, forks, spoons, etc, an antique Tiffany & Co sterling silver 152-piece English King flatware set filled the bill, setting the place at $6,490. The set included a fish knife, fruit knife, blunt hollow handle knife, flat butter spreader, oyster fork, pastry fork, solid fish fork, luncheon fork, dinner fork, soup spoon, teaspoon and dessert spoon. It was all fitted inside a chest measuring 18½ by 11½ by 8½ inches.
Fetching $5,900 was an 18K rose gold Patek Philippe pocket watch that was a beautiful example of Patek Phillipe’s mastery of timepieces. In running condition, it boasted a 56mm diameter case, 14S movement, with an engraving on the inner cuvette.
A platinum 7.55 carat weight diamond natural ruby convertible pendant brooch came with a GIA report and earned $4,244. Described as “ready to wear,” the antique piece is hinged so it can be worn as a pendant or clip/brooch. The white diamonds were old European cut and the rubies were not heat treated. The largest ruby was 1.25 carats.
No less dazzling was a pair of 18K white gold platinum and diamond South Sea pearl dangle flower convertible earrings going out at $5,043. The earrings featured round and baguette sparkly ultra-white D/F diamonds with a white 13mm South Sea pearl dangle. The pearl dangle is convertible and can be removed for a different style of earrings. The four large full cut round brilliant diamonds were approximately .25 carat each. The earrings came also with an interesting history, having belonged to the ex-wife of Scott Rothstein, a leader in the third largest Ponzi scheme in America, who was convicted and is currently serving time in prison.
A large seascape by Herman Herzog (1831-1932) came up for bid and claimed $4,490. The luminous stormy harborscape painting of sailboats in a very rough chop was artist-signed and measured 25 by 34 inches.
A run of more estate jewelry included a 10.80-carat natural blue sapphire cushion cut loose gemstone, which went out at $4,244; a 52.82-carat aquamarine diamond platinum retro Deco pendant brooch clip selling at $3,875; and an Art Deco-era platinum 3 carat weight diamond and 5 carat weight natural sapphire tennis bracelet with its original box that realized $2,522.
It was time out for high fashion as a platinum 3-carat diamond mesh lady’s Art Deco Charles Seale wristwatch from the 1920s scored $2,030. Seale was a famous Art Deco avenue jeweler from that period, and the watch even had diamonds on its clasp. Its old European diamonds exhibited E-G color, VS clarity. The watch’s movement was running, but for optimum timekeeping accuracy, the auction house suggested an overhaul at the buyer’s expense.
Uti of Paris, a well-known maker for Van Cleef & Arpels, was represented by a watch that had several French hallmarks that were tiny and difficult to discern. The signed and numbered 18K gold diamond sapphire ruby birdcage watch was similar to one recently bought at auction at Philips for more than $8,500. Here it brought $1,846.
A silver highlight in the sale was a huge and rare reticulated Tiffany & Co 1893 sterling silver footed bread tray basket that captured $1,888. The very ornate basket had an elaborate monogram in the center and was dated 1893 on the back. Showing a few dents in the center and minor surface scuffs throughout, it weighed in at 31.93 troy ounces and measured 15 by 11½ by 2½ inches.
Additional notable jewelry lots included an antique 1.19-carat old European cut diamond solitaire lady’s platinum engagement ring, $1,907; and, sure to elicit a grin from its new owner, a diamond designer Claus Vollrath 18K gold platinum whisker enamel Cheshire Cat pin brooch taking $1,599.
Photographs offered in the auction were led by a vintage Barbara Kasten (b 1936) Cibachrome photographic geometric nude image with gallery label going out at $1,661 and a black and white photograph by William Klein, New York, 1955, of the long-gone Selwyn Theater on one of the once-seediest stretches of New York City’s Times Square, ending at $1,599.
A Native American estate collection contributed two beaded purse bags, six early photographs of US Army Indian scouts from the Civil War or Indian wars era, Union soldier teepee photo and a 1937 Colquitt County Moultrie Georgia County history book by Covington Seminole Creek Content, which sold for $1,416.
Hess’s next auction is November 14, featuring Asian art, watches, Native American artifacts and paintings.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.hessfineart.com or 727-896-0623.
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