Published: February 12, 2008
On December 5‶, Dawson & Nye’s sale of belongings from the estate of rhythm and blues singer Luther Vandross grossed $1.8 million, doubling its $600/800,000 estimate. The estate comprised numerous items from both Vandross’s personal and professional life.
Vandross, who died of complications from a diabetic stroke on July 1, 2005, won eight Grammys and many other awards, had 14 platinum albums and sold more than 25 million records. His lifestyle was commensurate with his career; the items on display, which filled the 13,000-square-foot auction house, came from his houses in Beverly Hills, Calif., Greenwich, Conn., and New York City, and comprised only a portion of his total estate.
Vandross “lived large,” as illustrated by his possessions. Ranging from the jaw-dropping to the mundane, the auction presented his clothing, jewels, silver, furniture, fine art, decorative art, awards, tour costumes and equipment, instruments, luggage, fan art, kitchenware and personal ephemera.
Over the two days, 1,041 lots were offered and were vied for by a far-flung audience. People came from all over the United States, and numerous bids poured in from Europe, Asia and South America as his fans, desirous of acquiring “a piece of Luther,” battled over the array of items.
The top lot was a signed and numbered Picasso charcoal drawing that attained $141,600. Other fine art highlights were a Sam Francis abstract watercolor on paper that fetched $59,000, a David Hockney pen and ink sketch on paper that realized $18,880 and a Fernand Leger pen and ink drawing at $21,240.
Art Nouveau decorative items were strong sellers; a Gauthier & Decaffe carved mahogany wall clock with Daum glass panel trebled high estimate to bring $18,880, while an unsigned bronze earthenware vase with gilt metal accents estimated at $800․1,200 sold for $8,260.
Lalique items were another crowd favorite; the various lots of stemware, tabletop items, chandeliers, shelf units, mirrors, sconces and lamps went for well above estimate with the star being a much-sought-after Cactus table, estimated at $1/3,000, that climbed to $26,550.
Silver was in strong supply and demand. The top lights among the offerings being a Georg Jensen water pitcher at $22,420; a pair of Jensen “Grape and Leaf” pattern compotes, $23,600; and a massive Buccellati silver seven-armed candelabra, $29,500.
Furniture standouts included Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Georgian and contemporary examples, led by a Philip and Kelvin Laverne metamorphic bronze coffee table, estimated at $300/400, that achieved $21,240 and a pair of High Modern cantilever tables at $8,260.
Seventeen lots of Royal Copenhagen’s famed Flora Danica porcelain opened the second day to competitive bidding. While all the lots performed well, the standout was an Ice Bell and Stand that took $11,210, far surpassing the $800․1,200 estimate.
Jewelry was another Vandross favorite. His “bling” generated spirited bidding for the diamond rings and watches, gold watches, gold and diamond bracelets, gold necklaces and smaller items, with the high lot being an 18K yellow gold and diamond gentleman’s ring that sold for $22,420.
Among smaller, more personal items †from a high school yearbook to sketches and his numerous awards and citations †was a piece of sheet music with his handwritten notations for “If Only for One Night” that took $2,124 and a framed sales award for multi-platinum sales of “I’m Your Baby Tonight” that realized $3,540.
For additional information, www.dawsonandnye.com or 973-984-6900.
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