Experiencing what management termed the “most successful preview in the event’s history,” the Seventh Annual Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show opened on Saturday, February 13, to thousands of enthusiastic art connoisseurs, private collectors, museum curators and high-end interior designers. Management reported more than 50,000 making their way through the doors of the show over the course of the three-day event.
Indeed, as the show prepared to open for Friday evening’s preview party, traffic jams were once again witnessed as patrons attempting to gain access to the valet parking lots caused congestion throughout the area by backing up the main thoroughfare, Okeechobee Boulevard.
Management reported more than 6,000 on hand for the gala preview party, a benefit for the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, once again breaking previous attendance records. With a staggered opening, Palm Beach Historical Society supporters hit the floor at 5 pm, followed by a huge crowd of regular patrons at 7 pm.
The Palm Beach Group show manager, Kris Charamonde, stated that the event was a “tremendous success, with no signs of a recession. A majority of our exhibitors reported strong sales and were extremely happy with the number of serious buyers that were in attendance each day.”
Palm Beach is a megaevent with a quality level unsurpassed in shows of this size. Paintings, jewelry, furnishings and even folk art can be found at this event, with merchandise ranging in price from seven figures to just a few hundred dollars.
How is it that such large crowds are in attendance? Part of the answer is, “They give us all of the free passes that we ask for. We send them out to our clients and they come to the show. It is a win-win situation for everyone,” stated one jubilant dealer whose booth was crowded with patrons shortly after the show opened to public on preview night.
Funds raised from the evening benefit educational programming at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum.
Notable guests at Saturday’s show included Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor and his wife returned to the show a second time after their visit on Saturday and commented, “We enjoyed the show very much. There is an excellent group of art and antique dealers that exhibit here each year.” Giuliani reported finding “something for our new apartment.”
An elegant event, the Palm Beach show is laid out in a fairly straightforward manner, which luckily provides for a good sense of direction in the cavernous, 19-acre hall. Despite the show’s enormity, it is a warm and inviting place to shop. The white carpet lends a distinctive air to the show.
Jewelry and art are among the most prevalent items seen across the floor, followed by accessories of all sorts. Those looking for furnishings will find a limited, but premium and varied, selection. Merchandise seen around the floor this year ranged from Bouguereau paintings to a carousel horse, and from a Fifteenth Century larger-than-life-sized figural temple carving to a “Cage-Bed with Screen,” a Pop Art-style bed by artist Max Ernst.
Dealers were conducting business right from the start, and virtually everyone we spoke with had a positive attitude in regard to the show, both before and after. “I was pleasantly surprised with the change in mindset among buyers from last year to this year,” said Charles Washburne of Charles L. Washburne Antiques, Solebury, Penn. “People were buying even on the last day.”
An important Minton majolica tortoise was among the items sold by the dealer, which had an asking price of $36,750. Another item of note was a rare life-sized Minton majolica seated dog that sat attentively at the forefront of the stand.
“We had strong sales throughout the entire show that spanned every category of the items we exhibited, including clocks, bronzes, wristwatches and KPM plaques,” said exhibitor Larry Dalton of Scarsdale, N.Y. “Things are on the upswing.”
“People are definitely starting to spend comfortably on art again,” said Ron Cavalier of Cavalier Galleries, Inc, Greenwich, Conn. “We sold a number of works by the American sculptor Jim Rennert, which was the highlight of our show. Several clients of ours from Nantucket were in attendance, and we also met a lot of great new clients.”
“The show was the very best show of my career,” said Deborah Wilson of Vendome, Inc, Montecito, Calif. “The clientele were educated and there was a rarified atmosphere that gave everyone a positive outlook. Every detail of the event was taken care of †and that really makes a difference for the exhibitors and the attendees. This show is, without a doubt, the best in the country.”
Howard Rehs reported excellent sales on opening day, selling three paintings, including Eugene Boudin’s “Trouville, le port maree basse,” which was stickered at $250,000.
Michael Owen of Owen Gallery, New York City, listed a Grandma Moses painting, “Quiet Day,” among his sales. Other paintings displayed included a Raphael Soyer oil, “Intimate Interior,” circa 1945, that was priced at $120,000 and a John Marin watercolor, “Cape Split,” from 1939 that was marked $150,000.
A.B. Levy Antiques & Fine Arts, Palm Beach, welcomed clients from Holland who “loved the show as much as TEFAF Maastricht,” and purchased a Tiffany silver set. Other items of note from the display included a Viktor Schreckengost “Jazz” punch bowl, circa 1931, that was displayed on a Francois Linke salon table. Linke furnishings filled the stylish booth, as did a large selection of paintings and KPM plaques.
Questroyal Fine Art, Greenwich, Conn., offered a wonderful selection, with a Frank Benson watercolor, “The White Canoe,” attracting attention from the crowd. Displayed alongside it was Jasper Cropsey’s “Autumn Vista” and William Hart’s “Rocky Coast at Sunset” from 1864.
Carlson & Stevenson Antiques and Art, Manchester, Vt., filled the walls of its stand, and a couple of cases, with watercolors of all sizes. Listed among its sales was an entire collection of watercolors, 62 pieces, from 1890 called “High Society.”
Great Canes, Dorset, UK, saw a lot of interest in its collection of antique walking sticks †many of which have been used in Hollywood productions, such as Sherlock Holmes and a number of Agatha Christie movies. The dealer reported a great deal of interest from the public, with more than 20 canes sold in the first day alone.
“I have never seen such attendance in my life,” said Alan Granby of Hyland Granby Antiques. “Sales have been brisk and there have been more qualified people here at this show in one day than I’ve seen in five days at other shows.” Nautical figureheads, carvings, hardware and artworks were offered by the Hyannis, Mass., dealer, including a splendid Ralph Cahoon oil on Masonite consisting of two panels and known as “Boston and the Tropics.”
With an asking price of $845,000, M.S. Rau Antiques sold a charming composition by Norman Rockwell titled “Little Girl with Lipstick.” Rau also sold an English mahogany circular extension dining table, designed and patented by Robert Jupe, one of only a handful known, that was marked $298,500.
Spencer Marks sold more than 15 important pieces of silver that ranged in date from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century, including a pair of George II English sterling silver double-lipped sauce boats, circa 1759, made by London silversmith Thomas Heming. The highlight of the display was an iconic Gorham masterpiece, the “Iceberg” ice bowl and tongs that was made to celebrate the 1867 purchase of the Alaskan Territory from Russia. A “visual metaphor of ice in the Polar Regions,” the handles of the bowl are decorated with figural polar bears. The dealers commented that it is rare to find the bowl with the tongs.
William Cook, Wiltshire, UK, sold a Regency mahogany breakfront bookcase to a local Palm Beach couple. The bookcase was made by Gillows, who reportedly supplied furniture to many of the finest homes in England. Cook commented, “I was very pleased to see old clients and to meet new ones at this year’s show. As far as traffic goes, as an exhibitor, you couldn’t ask for more.”
For additional information, www.palmbeachshow.com or 561-822-5440.