Published: January 9, 2018
Review and Onsite Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Nadeau’s
WINDSOR, CONN. – Who needs candy canes when you can have a Thiebaud “Lollipop”? That seems to have been the consensus for the nearly 300 people who braved frigid temperatures and sat through almost ten hours and nearly 700 lots at Nadeau’s annual New Year’s Day auction. At press time, the sale had grossed $3.1 million, but that amount was expected to grow from post-auction sales. Not only was it Nadeau’s highest-grossing sale to date, but it was the first time the firm had hit the million-dollar mark for a single lot.
“This was by far and away the largest and the strongest sale in our company’s history,” said Ed Nadeau, owner of Nadeau’s Auction Gallery. “Breaking the $3 million barrier was a first for us, and we saw strong results across all categories, even to include furniture, which has been quite soft for the past few years. We look forward to continued success throughout 2018 and beyond.”
An hour before the sale started, Nadeau and his son, Eddie, said the sale had gotten “the best reception they’d ever had, with four times our usual number of condition report requests. We had gotten a lot of calls from the Midwest and south, which is where we wanted our market to grow.”
Nadeau’s knows how to keep auctiongoers in attendance, with high-valued lots sprinkled throughout the sale, comfortable chairs and a rotating selection of refreshments. For the convenience of buyers who could not attend the sale, online bidding was provided, as well as phone and absentee bidding.
The most eagerly anticipated lot of the sale was also its top lot. Wayne Thiebaud’s “Lollipop Tree,” which was offered without reserve, more than doubled its estimate to sell for $1,080,000. Several phone lines were in on the lot at the beginning, but, in the end, it came down to two competing phone bidders, with the final bid going to an international bidder. The lot smashed the firm’s record for a single sale and bumps the firm into a relatively small number of firms that have sold individual lots for more than $1 million.
Second-place honors went to an oil on panel painting of Jesus carrying the cross. The unattributed work, which had an estimate of $2/4,000, fetched $174,000, suggesting that at least two people had recognized an attribution. Commenting after the sale, Nadeau said he had received a lot of international interest in the lot and confirmed that an international phone bidder had been the successful buyer.
The Italian mosaic vase by Ercole Barovier was an eagerly anticipated highlight that did not disappoint. It more than tripled its low estimate to sell for $108,000, again to an international phone bidder. Prior to the sale, Nadeau said the vase had a very narrow market but that the leading expert had proclaimed it “great”; you could hear a pin drop in the saleroom before Nadeau brought the gavel down, but the audience erupted in applause once he hammered it down.
Victorian furniture has not performed well in recent memory, but the selection Nadeau offered exceeded both estimates and expectations. One of the lots of note was a pair of Renaissance Revival carved walnut and burl cabinets with marble tops. Though they had been unattributed in the auction catalog, after the sale, Nadeau said someone had suggested they were made by the Philadelphia firm, Allen & Brothers. Another impressive price was $46,800, which was achieved by a large Renaissance Revival cabinet with bronze doors and etched glass doors. Both lots, as well as most of the Victorian furniture lots, came from the estate of Frank Perrotti Jr, of Hamden, Conn; Nadeau said more property from this estate would be offered in subsequent sales.
The sale started with jewelry and featured a wide variety of lots for all price points, with nearly all the jewelry and watch lots selling. Rolex watches were the top sellers of the section, with the top lot being a last-minute addition to the sale, a Rolex stainless steel oyster Daytona Cosmograph gentleman’s watch that achieved $46,875. It was followed by an 18K gold lady’s watch in “like new” condition that achieved $11,400 against an estimate of $6/10,000.
Artwork also performed well. Among the top ten lots was a charming portrait of a mother and child in an orchard by Virginie Demont-Breton that brought nearly triple its low estimate when it closed at $43,200. The sale included a Guy Wiggins painting of Fifth Avenue in winter; one of his ever popular and seasonally appropriate winter scenes; it sold within estimate and brought $18,000. Modern art included a geometric abstract by Albert Eugene Gallatin that brought nearly six times its low estimate of $5/9,000 when it finished at $28,800. A Catskills landscape by Emile Gruppe, in an appealing gilt Newcomb Macklin frame, brought more than twice its low estimate to close at $14,400.
Ceramics were led by an extremely rare majolica stump-form tureen by Hugo Lonitz with a recumbent deer on the lid and fox handles. Even with a repaired liner and minor chips and cracks, it brought $23,750 against an estimate of $4/8,000. Four Picasso Madoura pottery lots towards the end of the sale all sold, three within or near estimate and one selling for $20,400, more than tripling its low estimate.
Formal French furniture had mixed success. A Louis XV marquetry two-drawer commode stamped by Jacques Dubois more than doubled its estimate to close at $13,200, while two late Louis XV marquetry bonheur du jours – one stamped by Charles Topino, the other attributed – both came in below estimate with each selling for $12,000, despite each having been previously sold at Sotheby’s Monaco and New York. A Regence gilt-bronze boulle cartel wall clock and companion barometer with impressive provenance to Lockinge House and Overstone Park made nearly three times its low estimate to finish at $42,000.
The Perotti estate yielded some musical surprises, including a Lyon and Healy gilt and satinwood concert harp. Regardless of some cracks in its column, its estimate ($1/2,000) was tempting enough to entice at least two bidders to push it to close at $30,000. An 1859 Steinway carved rosewood grand piano appeared to have been well cared for as it still played well despite some minor condition issues; it made four times its low estimate to close at $20,000.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
Nadeau’s next sale will be January 20, at 25 Meadow Road. For information, 860-246-2444 or www.nadeausauction.com.
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