Published: May 31, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Millea Bros
BOONTON, N.J. – Boutique auction company Millea Bros conducted a three-day online auction, May 18-20, offering a wide range of art, design and antiques sourced from prominent New York area estates, institutions and private collections. The overall sale grossed $2.9 million with a 95 percent sell-through rate. Four online platforms were utilized with an excess of 2,000 viewers each day among them. Tribal art and Modern and contemporary art were the best performing categories. “For tribal art, that’s not always the case,” pointed out co-founder Michael Millea, “but for this it was the quality of the material and the provenance to the estate of Martin Wright. With tribal art, the clincher is always the provenance.”
An ancient Roman-style mosaic sold on Day 3, a session devoted to Asian and tribal arts, antiquities and silver. The large marble panel, possibly from the Fourth-Fifth Century, featured a pouncing spotted panther among grasses and a tree and sold for $262,500.
Also offered on Day 3 was a monumental Kwakwakaíwakw figurative feast bowl, circa 1780 or earlier, from northwest British Columbia. Possibly of alder wood, the canoe-shaped vessel with channel banding along the rim and throughout the body featured expressive carved faces on either end and was approximately 43 inches long. Property from the estate of Martin Wright, the bowl went out at $162,500. A private buyer in Wyoming prevailed. Catalog notes state that high-ranking Kwakwaka’wakw families owned ceremonial objects that symbolized supernatural encounters their ancestors had with mythological creatures from who they obtained privileges and wealth.
An important Aleut closed-crown chief hunting hat, also from the Wright estate, took $55,000. Fashioned in the late Eighteenth/early Nineteenth Century in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands from bentwood, walrus bone, glass trade beads, fiber, sea lion whiskers and pigment, the beak-form helmet would have been worn at sea during whale hunting. Its surface was decorated with red and blue parallel line decoration, and a carved volute on the reverse held a plumage of long sea whiskers. An old French handwritten label to the helmet’s interior read “Chapeau d’un natural-Detroit de Behring,” indicating that it was once in a French collection.
Day 1 was devoted to Modern and contemporary art and design, jewelry and fashion. Fetching $53,750 against an $8/12,000 estimate was a large wool tapestry by John Coburn (Australian, 1925-2006), with lively shapes and vivid colors. The 1975 piece was titled “Legend” and was signed in weave lower right, numbered in weave verso 1/6, with a Pinton Freres Tapisserie D’aubusson France label verso and measured 71 by 57 inches. It is returning to Australia.
Modern art highlights also included a gouache attributed to Fernand Leger (French, 1881-1955) from a corporate art collection. The 1949 untitled composition was initialed and dated lower right. It bore Richard Gray Gallery and Albert Loeb & Krugier Gallery labels verso and was framed under plexiglass. Measuring 28½ by 21 inches, it realized $41,250.
In modern design, an early George Nakashima (American, 1905-1990) sliding-door cabinet earned $28,750 and is staying in the Northeastern United States. From 1958, the New Hope, Penn.-crafted piece was of black walnut, with a free-edge overhanging top and exposed dovetail corners, along with two pandanus cloth clad grill sliding doors opening to drawers on the left and shelves on the right. The cabinet came from the original owner, with a copy of original order card on Nakashima Studio letterhead.
Day 2 featured American, European art and antiques and carpets. There were two Rozenburg large vases leading the day, the priciest of which was a Willem Hartgring four-handled example, which finished at $21,250, well above its $2/3,000 estimate. From circa 1900, the polychrome enameled porcelain featured a squared globular body with tall thin garlic bulb neck and four loop handles, painted with stylized iris flowers. It was 15 inches high and stood on a black display plinth.
There were several more tribal highlights on the sale’s last day, including a Luba People female neck rest at $28,750; a large bronze standing Ayuthaya Buddha and a Tlingit or Haida Peoples raven rattle each taking $25,000 and a pair of Chinese huanghuali “Meigui Yi” chairs selling for $23,750.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The auction house is planning its next sale for late June or early July. For additional information, 973-377-1500 or www.millebros.com.
July 6, 2022
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