Published: March 30, 2021
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Butterscotch Auction
BEDFORD, N.Y. – Butterscotch Auction’s March 21 spring estates auction featured 676 lots, including fine and decorative arts from the estate of Errol Rudman, plus items that had been purchased from the estate of Mrs Paul Mellon. There was also designer midcentury furniture and an extensive cache of Mexican silver from Scarsdale, N.Y., as well as a couple of impressive tall case clocks and more. Fine art appraiser Paul D. Marinucci and his able staff have been conducting auctions since 1987 and the gallery has established itself as one of the preeminent estate auction houses in the greater New York City area.
Last spring’s sale was conducted under New York State’s “shelter-in-place” order, essentially online only, while this year’s at least permitted a limited in-person audience of about 100 inside Historical Hall, but with lots of online accessibility, resulting in a sell-through rate of 82 percent and sale total of approximately $750,000.
The firm’s Alexander Fonarow, speaking after the sale, said, “We had about 3,500 registered through Invaluable, about 1,600 on LiveAuctioneers and about 800 on our own website. We enjoyed strong results in American fine art, especially contemporary female artists, and there seems to be a growing focus on design.”
They may have just been garden basins, but they were not just anyone’s. With provenance to the estate of Peggy Mellon, a set of four baroque-style basins cast in lead, likely late Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century, tipped to triple their high estimate at $31,720, and led the overall auction, selling to a bidder in the room and outperforming a previous benchmark at a Sotheby’s sale. Each planter measured 19 inches and 24 inches high.
Bringing the second highest price in the sale was a bespoke Country Willow library cabinet that had been designed for men’s fashion guru Joseph Abboud’s (b 1950) office in about 2006. Abboud is chief executive officer of Herringbone Creative, which is based in Bedford. Built from reclaimed barn wood stained, distressed and rubbed with beeswax, the outer cabinet doors set with slag glass, the library measured 102 by 145 by 24 inches and could be broken down into six sections for moving, a boon to the local buyer who paid $19,050, more than triple the piece’s high estimate. Its companion, a monumental Country Willow piece with two central cabinet doors set with antique slag glass and canted outer cabinet sections, would break down into ten pieces for moving. At 112 by 176 by 24 inches, it commanded $11,590. Fonarow said Butterscotch worked with a local woman who does staging to get the consignment.
Fetching $18,300 was a circa 1917 Tiffany & Co., tall case clock with arched top mahogany case and satinwood stringing. Its beveled glass doors and sides were flanked by tapering square half-columns, and it had an eight-day movement with painted moon dial, playing three chimes – Westminster, St Michaels and Whittington – on nine tubes. Standing 7 feet high, the clock’s provenance is to the estate of an important New York City collector, originally a gift to Justin DuPratt White, Esq. from White and Case law firm and purchased by the consignor in 1977. It almost didn’t make the sale. Fonarow related that the clock’s size and weight nearly prevented its removal from the Manhattan apartment. In the end, his crew was able to get it down flights of stairs, and, ironically, after the sale it is headed back to the city.
There was a good deal of modern furniture in the sale, much of it descended through an important Scarsdale, N.Y., family. A Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891-1979) sideboard, Mod. 1102, jumped its $7/9,000 estimate to sell for $16,510. Made for M. Singer & Sons, circa 1950s, the sideboard cabinet had three figured wood doors, two outer doors revealing interior shelves and a central cabinet door revealing a bank of four drawers. It was all supported by a “floating” base raised on signature Ponti designed square tapering legs. Branded “Made in Italy,” the piece measured 37½ by 71 by 17¾ inches.
The same source provided a set of eight Vladimir Kagan sculpted side chairs with yellow leather upholstery, all branded “Kagan – Dreyfuss / A Vladimir Kagan Design.” Three of them sported with Kagan-Dreyfuss, Inc. paper labels. Measuring 35½ by 19 by 26 inches each, the set brought $12,700.
A fanciful Jorge Zalszupin (b 1922) midcentury sofa, circa 1950s, sold for $10,795. It had a figured rosewood slatted frame with a bentwood back over three chrome-plated steel legs. It was designed by Zalszupin for L’Atelier, measured 25 by 75½ by 29 inches and had been purchased in Paris by its consignor, a private Manhattan collector.
The Abboud consignment proffered a set of three Brickel Associates for Joseph Abboud upholstered club chairs with brown leather and bespoke “district check” fabric milled in Scotland. They pulled in $4,880, while Abboud’s private office also gave up eight tufted leather armchairs, 1910-20, with rounded backs and conforming outset arms, distressed tufted leather and brass tacks on a wood frame. They had been reconditioned – not reupholstered – in the early 2000s and also finished at $4,880.
American art was also popular, with George Browne’s (1918-1958) “Fog in the Morning,” 1982, an oil on canvas, 25 by 30 inches, depicting Canada Geese alighting in a pondside meadow realizing $7,930; a Raphael Gleitsman (1910-1995) oil on board, 14 by 24 inches, of seven drifters down by the river by a fire and with a cargo train in the background, bringing $6,710; an oil on board by Philip Reisman (1904-1992) titled “Vermont Saw-Mill,” 19 by 28 inches, fetching $6,100; and a colorful portrait by Miriam “Mimi” Schapiro (1923-2015) that attracted 48 bids and sold for six times its high estimate at $6,096. Titled “The Blue Angel” and depicting a seated female figure against a feathery blue-green background, the acrylic on canvas, 72 by 80 inches, was signed lower right, signed titled and dated 1987 on verso. Schapiro was a leader of the Feminist Art Movement, a painter, sculptor and printmaker who helped spearhead the feminist art movement in the 1970s, and with Judy Chicago co-directed Womanhouse.
There was also a painting by Alfred Thompson Bricher (American, 1837-1908) depicting a rocky seascape and going out at $5,080. The oil on canvas measured 11¼ by 8½ inches. It was signed lower left “AT Bricher” with the initials “AT” conjoined and had the remnants of an old “Thos. A. Wilmurt / Mirrors & Picture Frames / 54 E. 13th Street / New York” paper label on frame verso. Catalog notes said that the view was probably Grand Manan Island, Canada, possibly Bishop’s Rock.
Among the sculpture highlights in the sale was a bronze eagle by Eli Harvey (American, 1860-1957) depicting the majestic bird clutching a salmon in its talons on top of a rock. At 11½ inches high and signed “Eli Harvey / Sc 1908,” the piece flew far above its $500/700 estimate, alighting at $5,344.
A possibly unique lot to cross the block in the sale was a claret jug modeled in the form of a monkey seated on its haunches, with blown amber glass body and silver head, shoulders and feet, the hinged head with collar and two-tone glass eyes. Made in London, circa 1893, with silver mounts by Richard Hodd & Sons, the 11½-inch-high jug sold for $14,640. Catalog notes pointed out that of the very few examples of this model known, none feature the yellow glass body. A clear glass bodied example of 1882 by the same maker was sold by Sotheby’s Belgravia in December 1977, and two clear glass bodied examples can be found in the Kent Collection of claret jugs.
All prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Butterscotch will present its next auction in July. For more information, 914-764-4609 or www.butterscotchauction.com.
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