Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Catalog Photos Courtesy Lawyer Auction
RED HOOK, N.Y. – On Wednesday, June 17, Lawyer Auction’s ‘New Normal’ online-only sale of 375 lots was conducted via the LiveAuctioneers platform with about 1,000 registered bidders competing against phone bidders and absentee bids. About 80 percent of the sale sold on the night of the sale, with a few post-auction sales finalized afterward. Speaking with Antiques And The Arts Weekly by phone, Lawyer Auction’s Peter Garlo said the website’s signal kept going down and he cited several lots where people left higher bids than the site recognized. “We had property from a big local estate, and lots of good smalls. It should have been one of our best sales and it was awful,” Garlo said.
We reached out to LiveAuctioneers for a comment, which chief executive officer Phil Michaelsen provided, saying, “We pride ourselves on having the most stable and scalable technology in the auction industry, and even with an unrivaled 99.999% of received bids being transmitted to auction houses in less than one second, 0.001% of bids experience delays or other challenges. This rate compares favorably to alternative methods of bidding. To identify and resolve infrequent issues, our system automatically alerts engineers whenever a single bid is delayed. We also maintain a 24/7 emergency line for auctioneers to call if they experience a problem that cannot be rectified on their end, such as a local Internet outage or bidders experiencing a slow connection from their own providers.
“We take every disruption seriously and have undertaken a thorough investigation of this incident report. We recognize this was difficult for Lawyer Auction and have reached out to them to make sure they know we did our utmost to assist and support them during an undoubtedly stressful situation. Fortunately, no other auctioneers have reported incidents that were either concurrent or similar to that of Lawyer Auction.”
Despite connectivity issues, Garlo was surprised at some of the results, which included a four-seat circular sofa, a pine farm table and a few lots by Tiffany, which he said “brought a lot of money.”
One of the lots that brought a surprisingly strong result was a circa 1890s American Victorian Moorish-style circular sofa with tufted upholstery, of the sort one often finds in elegant hotel lobbies. It had been consigned to Lawyer Auction from a local private collection and brought $1,800 from a private collector in Indiana who was bidding on the phone.
Silver offerings – if they are estimated reasonably – typically bring good money from both trade buyers and private collectors. This sale featured 25 lots of silver in all forms, with an Art Deco sterling silver and rosewood-handled tea set made in Lisbon and marked “Sarmento” bought by a private collector for $1,680. Results on other sterling silver lots included a standing dresser mirror with heart-shaped repousse frame that brought $420, the same price realized for an Enzo Cerfagli signed bowl. A Gorham silver dish made $390, just ahead of a Tiffany & Co footed bowl that topped off at $360.
Bringing the third-highest price in the sale was $1,200, which a trade buyer in New York City paid for a large circa 1900 Chinese antique panoramic watercolor on silk that depicted a domestic scene. Like many lots, it saw competitive bidding, taking 31 increments to close. A small but choice offering of Chinese lots included a footed urn with dragon handles that flew to $720 and a bronze horse that galloped to $300.
Fine art choices were plentiful and varied, with top results achieved for both traditional and modern works. A circa 1968 lithograph by Joan Miro sold to a buyer in Germany for $1,140 while a mid-Nineteenth Century painting of a ship sailed to $780, paid for by a buyer bidding from Maine. A drawing of a town by Abraham Walkowitz made $510, the same price paid for a watercolor and gouache picture of Chartres by Richard Henry Wright.
Though the sale had been promoted as featuring “mostly smaller scale pieces,” it did include furniture, some of which outperformed expectations. The same local collection that was the source of the circular sofa that made top billing was also the source of a pine farm table that surprised Garlo when it finished at $1,080, selling to a buyer from Long Island. A circa 1890 American stick and ball mahogany etagere with mirrored door realized $540, a handmade oak bar topped off at $510 and a Lundstrum barrister’s bookcase with glazed doors that closed at $480.
A date for Lawyer Auction’s next sale has yet to be determined.
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house.
Lawyer Auction is at 7265 South Broadway. For information, www.lawyer-auction.com or 845-233-5950.